We mobilize faith organizations for family health and wellbeing

Given their trusted and strong presence, there is tremendous potential of faith organisations to influence people’s choices on family health and wellbeing. Faith to Action Network mobilizes faith organizations’ support for integration and streamlining of policies, services and funding for family health and wellbeing.

Religion is central to people’s lives. Between 69% and 98% of the population in Africa describes religion as “very important” in their lives” (Pew 2010). Religious beliefs often affect individuals’ behaviours which impact health, including age at marriage, family structure and roles and preventive health practices like strategies couples use to achieve their preferred family size.

Faith organizations represent strong pillars of Africa’s health systems. 30% to 70% of the African health infrastructure is owned by faith organisations. On average, private health providers account for 28 % of the sources of modern contraceptive methods in Africa.

Faith organisations harness tremendous power to shape public policy. High level decision makers’ commitment to family health and wellbeing is strongly influenced by factors such as prevailing cultural and religious attitudes. In many countries, winning the support of faith organisations for SRHR can have a snowball effect in policy and funding arenas.

Faith organizations serve as hubs of social connectivity. In addition to providing care, support and medicines, faith leaders often also provide less tangible assistance, such as information, encouragement, compassion and hope. Faith leaders and centers of religious life very often also serve as hubs of social connectivity. As a result, faith-based leaders can play an important role in strengthening and sustaining communities’ abilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from incidents with negative health consequences through individual and community resilience.

Faith to Action Network’s better packaging of language and terminologies has increased faith actors’ acceptance of family health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many misperceptions and misinformation on family health and wellbeing and interpretation of scriptures prevail in religious circles. Faith leaders, staff in faith organizations, teachers in faith-run schools and health workers in faith-run facilities do not always have access to current knowledge and skills. Many faith organizations’ resistance to family health and wellbeing is grounded in inadequate terminology. Language is not adapted to culture, beliefs, ages and education levels of people. Faith to Action Network offers this translation and interpretation expertise.

Faith to Action Network has created spaces to engage in policy discussions at regional level, national and sub-national level. Decision making often happens behind closed doors without meaningful involvement of faith organizations. This hinders ownership and buy-in of policies and creates resistance.

Faith to Action Network has increased faith organizations’ exposure to different faith interpretations, methodologies and approaches on family health and wellbeing, by organizing dialogues and exchanges between faith organizations. Often, lack of exposure to other ideas and approaches leads to closed cultural horizons, standing in the way of self-reflection, innovation, experimenting and change.

Faith to Action Network’s research and demonstration projects generate evidence on faith organizations family health and wellbeing activities. Generally, there is little data on faith organizations’ health services, and even less on the provision of family health and wellbeing services, commodities and information, hampering planning and decision making. Faith-run health facilities report inconsistently into DHIS2. Demographic Health Surveys provide little information or none at all.

Faith to Action Network has brokered partnerships and alliances between unlikely partners – interfaith, intra-faith and with secular organizations. This has increased the voice and impact of faith organizations family health and wellbeing work. Most stakeholders preach to the converted, failing to engage and partner with those holding different ideas. This creates missed opportunities in taking advantage of each others’ strengths.

Faith to Action Network has mobilized faith organizations’ resources for family health and wellbeing. Faith actors represent an untapped funding source for the delivery of family health and wellbeing services. Information from the Ugandan government hints at large contributions to health financing: It notes that the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau provided 12% of the clinical health workforce. 28% was paid by partners (government, donors, religious organizations) and 72% from internally generated resources. Resource mobilization efforts need to target internal resources from faith organisations, and their capacity to fundraise from local communities and governments.

 

Faith to Action's most recent health activities

  • Brussels, BELGIUM, 11 OCTOBER 2018 (F2A) – The Social Affairs and Environment Committee of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly has praised a newly released report on the state of women rights implementation in Africa. The report lays credence to the actions taken by faith communities, among the larger civil society, in promoting change of social

  • An indigenous church in West Pokot in Kenya is actively engaged in a variety of strategies to change community perceptions and practices towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation. With community guidelines and forums, as well as a rescue school for girls under threat of female genital mutilation, the church seeks to prevent girls

  • On Kenya Muslim Youth Development Organization’s (KMYDO) intervention sites, family planning uptake has improved from 57% to 75% in Malindi and from 69% to 75% in Kilifi North, between 2015 and 2017 (DHIS2 data). KMYDO has championed the development and launch of six family planning costed implementation plans for Wajir, Kilifi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Lamu and

  • In 2017, the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) adopted a resolution on family health and family planning services and information. This resolution was shared with all the 13 provinces, dioceses and departments of Anglican churches in Africa, reaching over 36 African countries. Follow-up initiatives have been undertaken in, among others, Ghana for institutional

  • Cordaid’s programme JeuneS3 (‘santé, sexualité et securité’ in french) works towards preventing unwanted teenage pregnancies in four francophone countries in Africa: DR Congo,  Central-African Republic, Cameroon and Benin.  It comprises four complementary strategies:  sexuality education with a focus on adolescents aged 10-14 years, provision of youth-friendly health services, strengthening the youth voice and building an

  • Since July 2016, Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH) demonstrates how to leverage faith organizations’ wide networks and social and political influence in the Philippines. It has formed a network called “Interfaith for Dignity & Equality Advancement & Solidarity (IDEAS)” with 32 representatives from 8 regions and 12 provinces representing 8 churches and faith traditions. Each

  • Kampala, Uganda (21 February 2018) – Faith and Cultural groups in East Africa want the Partner States to make national health insurance schemes widely accessible to their citizens. Led by Bishop Stephen Kaziimba and Sheikh Mohammad Waisswa, the leaders made these recommendations during the inaugural roundtable on health financing held in Kampala. The call for

  • The faith community has realized impressive achievements in promoting family planning services and information since it met at the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). Please, join Faith to Action Network and Christian Connections for International Health on March 13th, 2018, for a discussion on the way forward and how to prepare for ICFP

  • Quezon City, Philippines – July 22, 2017 The Luzon region of Philippines is set to experience lower maternal mortality rates that were previously characteristic among young women blow 24 years of age. This is after religious leaders in the region began promoting family planning within and outside the faith spaces. Speaking at the conclusion of

  • Canon Grace Kaiso has called on development partners to empower faith communities into using their spaces and institutions to promote family planning. The chairperson of Faith to Action Network said on this on July 11, 2017 while addressing the Family Planning Summit in London, UK. He was accompanied by Prof Ahmed Ragab and Peter Munene,

  • Peter Munene, Faith to Action Network’s CEO, on 4th April 2017 represented the Network in a panel during a formal side event to the 50th Session of the Commission on Population and Development 2017 in New york. The World Council of Churches and ACT Alliance organized the side event in cooperation with the United Nations

  • A report on teenage pregnancy commissioned by Faith to Action Network, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and Kilifi County government shows that one out of four teenage girls in the area is either pregnant or a mother. The report points at retrogressive cultural practices and poverty as the main catalysts to early marriages