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

  • Athens, GREECE, 2 October 2019 (F2A) – Religion, religious communities, leaders and institutions present both resources and obstacles to the full attainment of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all and for women, youth and LGBTQI persons. At the INSPIRE conference in Athens, Faith to Action Network and Church of Sweden hosted a panel

  • Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA, 27 September 2019 (F2A) – Meeting recently in Johannesburg when the issue of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is under the spotlight in South Africa, theologians from different countries in the Southern Africa region undertook to address sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) more actively and effectively. Coming from diverse faith

  • Arusha, TANZANIA, 13 May 2019 (F2A) – The Speaker of the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) has welcomed support from civil society in the process of enacting a regional law on reproductive health that has been pending since 2017. The Right Honorable Martin Ngoga said members of EALA need background information and technical assistance to

  • New York, USA, 04 April 2019 (F2A) – The All Africa Conference of Churches has led other religious coordinating bodies in  urging Member States of the United Nations not to regress on previous commitments on ICPD and all its reviews, including the commitment to agreed language on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for

  • Nairobi, KENYA, 14 March 2019 (F2A) – The Executive Committee of the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) Kenya Chapter has agreed to search for solutions to the problems that hinder young people from accessing education. Bishop James Onyango, the Chairperson of OAIC Kenya said although African Instituted Churches are custodians of culture, “some of

  • Nairobi, KENYA, 13 March 2019 (F2A) – An 11-member taskforce has been formed by representatives of the religious coordinating bodies in Kenya to support in providing inputs into the country’s school education curriculum. Members of the taskforce were nominated during a recently held meeting, hosted by the secretariat of Faith to Action Network, to discuss

  • 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

  • Faith to Action Network and Church of Sweden hosted a workshop at the 2018 Eurongos conference, between November, 6th and 7th 2018 in Ghent, Belgium. “Tensions linger and oxygen is sucked from debates. Honest recognition of differences and robust discussion in ‘safe spaces’ could help move towards better understanding and common visions, …dispel myths associated

  • 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