Launch of Faith and Family Planning Report Print {sharethis label=}
Report Reveals Faith Communities Play Vital Role in Family Planning
 
CCIH affiliate, the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), released a report February 10, 2014 commissioned by the United Nations Foundation Universal Access Project exploring the role of faith-based organizations in family planning. The impact of faith-based actors in health interventions is significant. FBOs provide anywhere from 25 to 40 percent or more of care in some nations in sub-Saharan Africa and 84 percent of the world’s population identifies as religious. 
 
As CCIH Executive Director Ray Martin explained in a panel session at the Pew Charitable Trust in Washington, DC, “FBOs provide a major portion of health services in many countries and faith leaders can have enormous influence in communities on issues such as health.”
 
In above photo, Karen Sichinga of the Churches Health Association of Zambia (center) explains the active role of faith-based organizations in providing family planning. To the left is Katherine Marshall of WFDD and to the right is Dr. Azza Karam of the United Nations Population Fund. 
 
Karen Sichinga, executive director of the Churches Health Association of Zambia also spoke in the panel, addressing the misperception that most Christian organizations are not helping families with safe birth spacing. “Let’s beat our own drums more and share what we are doing in family planning, so others will know,” said Ms. Sichinga. Family planning has proven to be an important intervention for improving maternal, newborn and child health.
 
Katherine Marshall, executive director of World Faiths Development Dialogue, who oversaw the development of the report, highlighted three key findings in her remarks. She explained that although faith groups differ in terms and experiences with family planning, in general, the idea that parents having the information they need to make important decisions on birth spacing is shared among Muslims, Protestants and Catholics. In addition, the researchers discovered that family planning is often part of broader healthcare activities, but information on the provision of family planning services is often not readily available. Finally, family planning programs by faith-based organizations tend to be concentrated in difficult areas where people lack access to care, such as urban slums and conflict zones.
 
Dr. Azza Karam, senior culture advisor, United Nations Population Fund addressed the complex issue of the distinction between culture and religion, observing that it is often cultural factors that discourage family planning use and not religious prohibitions. The panel was moderated by Reverend Gary Hall, PhD, dean of the Washington National Cathedral.
 
Report Findings 

According to the report, faith leaders and FBOs are active in family planning in many areas and ways and have the potential to do more. Major findings from the report include:

  • The positive potential of faith leaders is powerful and seems to remain under-utilized as part of the essential partnerships that offer promise for enhancing reproductive health.

  • Many faith leaders and FBOs support and provide family planning, and are willing to advocate for it. 

  • While faith leaders and FBOs have some limitations, they are adaptive and innovative.

  • Motivation and integration are important in faith leaders’ and FBOs’ family planning work.

  • Faith leaders and FBOs can be especially effective in behavior change communication on reproductive health.

  • Faith leaders and FBOs can be effective advocates for family planning.

The report also refers to CCIH advocacy activities and research on Christian attitudes on family planning and contains case studies from FBOs providing family planning, including CCIH members. | Read the full report
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 February 2014 18:14 )