New thesis about challenges for church-based healthcare in Tanzania


The dissertation “Beyond an instrumental approach to religion and development - Challenges for church-based healthcare in Tanzania” serves as a contribution to the larger ongoing debate on the role of religion in development in an effort to move beyond an instrumental approach.

josephine Sundqvist

The aim is to study the role of religious agents in development through the prism of contractual partnerships between church organisations and the Tanzanian state in healthcare delivery. By entering into Public Private Partnership (PPP) health agreements, church organisations have moved to centre stage. Their attraction as service providers follows from their existing infrastructure and previous experience and capacity in the health sector. The analysis shows that faith is a key motivator and a central factor in the running of church health services.

However, the fact that church organisations are becoming increasingly dependent on the state has implications in terms of their role as a critical voice in the public debate and could potentially threaten their independence as faith-driven civil society actors. Church organisations are also becoming more vulnerable financially, as they are not compensated according to the PPP contracts. The current situation where church organisations are dominating the PPPs in health has implications on both the Tanzanian model of secularism, with its emphasis on Muslim and Christians being treated equally, and the local governments’ strive towards national ownership with their favouring of public healthcare over private alternatives.

The research project is part of the Impact of Religion research programme: Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy. IMPACT is a multidisciplinary research programme at Uppsala University. IMPACT runs over a ten year period 2008-2018 funded by the Swedish Research Council and Uppsala University.