November 16, 2011
Faith-based organizations (FBOs) are often at the frontline of healthcare in developing countries and have networks in the most remote regions. Their close links to communities provide them with an opportunity to promote behavior change and address other cultural factors contributing to maternal mortality rates such as early marriage and family planning. Working in collaboration with FBOs and other stakeholders is critical to promoting demand for maternal and reproductive health services; however, limited knowledge about faith-based maternal healthcare exists.
Today’s discussion highlighted successes and challenges in the field and will highlight the lessons and knowledge gaps identified during a Wilson Center workshop in Washington DC with 30 experts from the faith-based and maternal health communities.
Nabeela Ali, chief of party, PAIMAN, discussed the project’s strategy for sensitizing Pakistani ulamas (religious leaders) and encouraging them to advocate for maternal health in sermons and lectures. Jamila AlSharie, community mobilizer, Pathfinder International, shared lessons learned working with faith-based leaders to address cultural and religious attitudes towards family planning in Yemen. Elidon Bardhi, country director Bangladesh, ADRA, discussed how ADRA works through nutrition, hygiene and skill training programs to improve maternal health and empower women to overcome patriarchal traditions. Mallam Kabir Abdullahi, team leader, NUHRHI, will present the initiative’s private-public model working with religious leaders. Strategies and recommendations identified during the Wilson Center workshop in Washington DC were provided by Katherine Marshall, executive director, World Faiths Development Dialogue.