The Interfaith Health Program was launched in 1992 at The Carter Center following major national studies which identified the key role of faith groups in advancing health of individuals and communities especially through prevention and health promotion. Since its inception the IHP and its "boundary partners" have worked to build the capacity for collaboration among faith groups and with other community assets such as religious health systems and public health entities. In its first years IHP staff held meetings in more than 20 U.S. cities identifying opportunities and barriers to mobilizing faith groups into effective partnerships. The 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 the 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.
The 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. The 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 community scale. 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 we expect our work to grow in that direction. 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. We publish a newsletter, Faith and Health, and other papers and books. We maintain a lively email discussion group.
Our work has been supported by core grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Templeton Foundation, The Kellogg Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Cousins Foundation, The Episcopal Health Charities (Houston), and Baptist Community Ministries (of New Orleans) have supported program components. Some staff are supported by partners such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.