ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire (GBGM) - The Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church in is developing a new strategic plan in health ministries as part of a denomination-wide emphasis on global health. The plan is focused on four priorities: the three diseases of poverty (malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS), strengthening the Methodist Hospital in Dabou, restarting a school of nursing, and establishing community-based-primary-health-care programs in the Côte d'Ivoire.

"I see The United Methodist Church of Côte d'Ivoire as a pioneer in global health work," said Dr. Cherian Thomas, executive secretary for Health and Welfare Ministries of the General Board of Global Ministries. "The church is strong and vibrant. Through the commitment of the people I met, there is a sense that things will improve for the better."

Thomas was the keynote speaker at a two-day workshop held at Abidjan from September 20-21, 2007. He introduced the priorities of the new UMC global health focus and assisted the group in mapping the health assets of the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference.

Key representatives and medical personnel of the Côte d'Ivoire Annual Conference are involved in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the United Methodist health system in Côte d'Ivoire, reviewed existing health programs, and made plans for future activities. They have given themselves a six-month deadline to prepare the details of the health plan.