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

  • Kigali, RWANDA – 12 NOVEMBER 2018 (CCIH) – Faith-based organizations have provided family planning services as part of basic healthcare for decades. People of faith value healthy families and understand that healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies is good for mothers, children and the entire family. Why does there still seem to be a disconnect

  • Kigali, RWANDA – 15 NOVEMBER 2018 (F2A) – At the fifth International Conference on Family Planning, faith leaders developed a commitment statement. As a statement of support and lessons learned, it was presented in the closing plenary session by Reverend Dr. Lydia Mwaniki, Director, Theology, Family Life and Gender Justice, All Africa Conference of Churches

  • Kigali, RWANDA – 12 NOVEMBER 2018 (F2A) – 200 faith leaders and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) advocates from across the world, jointly commemorated lost lives due to maternal mortality, prayed to overcome obstacles in enabling access to SRH services and celebrated progress in uptake of family planning. Faith to Action Network, Christian Connections for

  • Kigali, RWANDA – 13 NOVEMBER 2018 (F2A) – As “norm entrepreneurs” faith actors are well-suited to leading the change of social norms in family planning. Faith to Action Network hosted a discussion panel at ICFP 2018, describing recent norm changes in different faith communities. The Council of African Provinces of Africa resolved to promote family

  • Kigali, RWANDA, 13 NOVEMBER 2018 (F2A) – Collaboration is the animating principle of the Family Planning 2020 partnership. Represented by its Vice Chair Person Prof Dr Ahmed Ragab, Faith to Action Network served for two years on FP2020’s reference group to enable collaboration with the faith community. The spirit of collaboration is what enables disparate

  • Faith to Action Network partnered with PRB to offer Eastern African faith leaders, health workers and young people a voice. An all-new video and policy brief describe their support for policies enabling improved access to age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information and education in Eastern Africa. The East African Community is home to 38 million

  • Nairobi, KENYA, 05 JUNE 2018 (F2A) – Faith actors across Africa have mapped out a series of policy making processes to participate in going forward. The processes are contained in action plans developed during a recently held boot camp to build the actors’ advocacy skills. Speaking while delivering the event’s key note address on “Positioning

  • Kumasi, GHANA, 16 OCTOBER 2018 (F2A & Ghana News Agency) – The Chief Imam of Ashanti region in Ghana Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haruun has called on duty bearers to show greater commitment to implementation of policies on immunization of children. He said Ghana had strong policies on child immunization but the problem is vaccines are

  • UN News

    New York, USA, 25 JULY 2018 (F2A & UN News) – Contributions of the faith community to development efforts have been highlighted by the news agency of the United Nations. The two featured pieces, recorded in Kiswahili language, point to the power of religion in shaping personal decisions and actions. “In any society in the

  • Accra, GHANA, 05 OCTOBER 2018 (F2A) – Tension between public sector and civil society has been identified as a key limitation to advocacy efforts. This has slowed down progress on legal and policy reforms on the African continent. The limitations were identified during a presentation made, on the role of CSOs in Advocacy, during Africa Regional

  • Nairobi, KENYA, 7 AUGUST 2018 (F2A) – Policy champions based in Nairobi have perfected the art of using policy briefs to communicate with policy makers. As a result, these champions are now best placed to advocate for feasible policy and program alternatives. The learning took place during a one-day masterclass training on Writing for Policy

  • Cairo, EGYPT, 26 – 27 September 2018 (F2A) – Leaders of various churches in Egypt have freshly resolved to address domestic violence in communities of existence. Led by Ibrahimia Media Center in cooperation with Dr. Anne Coline from the Pentecostal Swedish Church, they committed the individual church leaders and members to respond fully to the

  • 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