Salesian Entity Highlights Health Initiatives for Vulnerable in Africa on World Health Day

Salesians in Lungi, Sierra Leone, start a Climate Club to focus on environmental education for youth. Credit: Salesian Missions

On the occasion of World Health Day marked April 7, an entity of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has highlighted health initiatives that provide access to care for people living in poverty around the globe, including Africa.

In a Thursday, April 7 report, the leadership of Salesian Missions, the U.S.-based development arm of SDB says, “Salesian missionaries offer more than 150 medical clinics and hospitals in mostly rural areas around the globe that serve a wide range of medical care needs.”

“In many countries with Salesian programs, dental care and other necessary health services are offered to poor youth and their families who might otherwise have no access to health care,” officials of the New York-based entity say in the report.

In the West African nation of Sierra Leone, Salesian Priest, Fr. Philip Gboa, has launched a new Climate Club in Lungi, a small coastal town in the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of the country. 

“The club will be open to the more than 6,000 youth in the local Salesian schools and youth center and will have a focus on environmental education and activities,” SDB officials say.


The Salesians involved in the initiative plan to “start the club with at least 60 youth. Ten volunteer teachers at St. Augustine Agricultural Secondary and Junior Secondary Schools will facilitate the program.”

“When the world is talking about climate change and environmental impact, it’s not being talked about here,” Fr. Gboa has been quoted as saying in the April 7 report.

He adds, “People throw garbage around and don’t really care about the environment much. They cut down trees for no reason.” 

“There are plastic bags littered all over. We have beaches but no one uses them because they are so dirty. As a result, we have diseases like cholera and typhoid, and something needs to change. It’s not just the parents who are impacted, it’s the children too,” the SDB Priest says.

The Climate Club will run three days a week and offer youth educational sessions and activities that will teach them about the environment and allow them to put those lessons into action, he says.

More in Africa

As an incentive to participate in the club, Fr. Gboa says that youth who become ambassadors “will be eligible for financial support to cover 50 percent of their university fees.”

Celebrated annually by the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 7, World Health Day was established in 1948.

This year’s theme, “Our planet, our health”, focuses global attention on urgent actions needed to keep people and the planet healthy and foster action to help societies focus on well-being. 

In an April 7 report, WHO has estimated that “more than 13 million deaths around the world, including 1.4 million in Europe each year, are caused by avoidable environmental factors”.

“This figure takes into account the accelerating climate crisis, which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, but also includes air pollution, inadequate sanitation and clean water, exposure to chemicals and radiation, and unsafe urban environments,” WHO says in the report titled, “Health on Earth: a healthy planet benefits us all – World Health Day 2022”


In the April 7 report, the Director of Salesian Missions says the ministry of SDB missionaries around the globe goes beyond education.

Fr. Gus Baek says, “Salesians aim to serve the whole person by making sure that basic needs like health and nutrition are met in addition to other social service needs.”

“This also includes care for the environment and combating the health conditions that arise as a result of pollution and other environmental impact,” Fr. Baek says.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.