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About the Interfaith Health Program

Faith Communities and Public Health Practitioners in Partnership for Healthier Communities

The Interfaith Health Program (IHP) was launched in 1992 at The Carter Center following major national studies that identified the key role of faith groups in advancing the health of individuals and communities, particularly through prevention and health promotion. Since its inception, IHP and our "boundary partners" have worked to build the capacity for collaboration among faith groups and other community assets such as religious health systems and public health entities. In our first years, IHP staff held meetings in more than 20 U.S. cities identifying opportunities and barriers to mobilizing faith groups into effective partnerships. IHP has conducted hundreds of workshops and training events throughout the United States in collaboration with professional organizations, major religious denominations, and local initiatives. In the Fall of 1999, IHP moved into its permanent home at Emory University as a program of the Rollins School of Public Health and in close relationship to the schools of theology and nursing. While much of the interest in this arena reflects a concern for problems of violence, teen pregnancy, elder issues, HIV, or cancer, the IHP strategy is always to build on the enduring strategic strengths and assets of faith structures.

IHP has worked with colleagues in the Faith and Health Consortium to create interdisciplinary academic working groups developing curriculum, research, and service models. We see a vast body of learning, testing, and research needed by the burgeoning faith and health movement. IHP also focuses on a small set of "Whole Community Collaboratives" where front line leaders are learning how to align the assets and strengths of faith and health at the community level. These initiatives link government, religious organizations, academic institutions, foundations, and a wide variety of community partners. While our early years have focused within the United States, this opportunity is global and our work is continuing to grow around the world. Because health is global in its challenges and opportunities for advancement, IHP staff and colleagues speak and consult with professional and leadership events in the U.S. and around the world.