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

  • Faith to Action Network together with the consortium partners are implementing “Delivering Equitable and Sustainable Increases in Family Planning” (DESIP) project conducted an assessment to identify the key factors that limit the uptake of Family Planning in Marsabit County in Kenya. Interesting analogies emanated from the assessment which measured for both quantitative and qualitative data.

  • DESIP Bulletin 5

    Family Planning is a central pillar of Kenya’s Reproductive Health programme and the wider national health priority as outlined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Health Act 2017, Kenya Health Sector Strategic & Investment Plan (KHSSP) 2013-17, Kenya Vision 2030 and Kenya Health Policy 2014- 2030. The government is committed to realizing Universal Health Coverage

  • 56 faith organisations from 26 countries, convened in Nairobi, Kenya, from December 7th to 9th, 2021 to imagine a shared future of flourishing harmonious communities, where everybody, regardless of religion, gender, age, culture, ethnicity, race, ability or any other dimension of diversity enjoys a dignified life and gave the following Interfaith Statement on human dignity,

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating effect in countries already affected by development challenges and humanitarian crises, and it is hitting the furthest behind – those who have no prospect of getting a first vaccine dose anytime soon – the hardest. This global emergency can be addressed only if affordable and effective COVID-19 vaccine

  • DESIP Bulletin 5

    Family Planning is a central pillar of Kenya’s Reproductive Health programme and the wider national health priority as outlined in the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Health Act 2017, Kenya Health Sector Strategic & Investment Plan (KHSSP) 2013-17, Kenya Vision 2030 and Kenya Health Policy 2014- 2030. The government is committed to realizing Universal Health Coverage

  • Dear members, partners, donors, staff and steering council members, 2020 represented almost a decade since Faith to Action Network was established. Thanks to generous donors, we have grown financially, and this has enabled us to grow geographically, technically, in partnerships and in thematic priorities. The 2020 Covid pandemic shifted our work from physical to virtual