Faith Community Matters

Evidence demonstrates that 84 percent of the world’s population identifies as religious. The importance of religion to people in developing countries is well documented, as is the high level of trust afforded to religious leaders by government leaders and citizens. In many regions of the world, faith-based organizations (FBOs) are important providers of both clinical and community-based health services—for rural, remote, and marginalized populations, FBOs are sometimes the sole source of health care. In many African regions, FBOs provide a quarter to half of all health services. As partners with USAID’s Bureau for Global Health for more than 30 years, FBOs have used their unique skills, presence, and trusted relationships within communities to address the health needs of people around the world. Advancing Partners & Communities (APC) collaborates with FBOs to strengthen their community health and family planning capacity. APC is currently working with Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) to help identify church communities in a targeted country willing to engage in family planning services and pilot test materials to improve these services for adults and youth.

Photo credit: Markus Kostner/World Bank

Faith-based organizations work on a wide variety of global health issues from a holistic perspective, often including family planning. Many FBOs advocate from a Christian perspective for access to family planning services to protect the health of mothers and children. Churches are often integral to communities, especially in developing nations, and faith leaders can be important messengers of health information, including the lifesaving benefits of family planning. Through advocacy efforts, education, and open and productive dialogue on why family planning is consistent with Christian values, FBOs are in a unique position to hear and voice the concerns of both health professionals and faith communities.

Some select examples of these efforts are below:

Diverse Approaches by FBOs to Sexual and Reproductive Health

Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights through faith-based approaches: a mapping study
July 2014 | Study

This mapping study sheds light on the opportunities and barriers faith-based organizations face working on sexual and reproductive health.

Peer-Reviewed Literature on FBOs

Christian Journal for Global Health
September 2014 | Journal Article

This journal disseminates evidence-based best practices; seeks to improve understanding of intercultural work in the context of health; and increases worldwide exposure to the innovations, experiences, and perspectives of global health workers.

Intersection of Faith and Family Planning

Voices from the Global South
January 2017 | Video

The members of Christian Connections for International Health span the globe. They have long-term working relationships with numerous faith groups, health systems and governments. They are uniquely placed to hear and voice the concerns of both health professionals and ordinary citizens. Here CCIH has gathered statements about family planning, its history, and its current strengths and weaknesses in several countries of the Global South.  

Religious Engagement in Family Planning Policies
January 2016 | Report

A report by CCIH affiliate World Faiths Development Dialogue provides analysis of the role of religious communities in family planning policies in six majority Muslim countries: Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan and Senegal. Although the experiences of the six countries are diverse, the report demonstrates that effective family planning policies must take religion into account. It also includes an appendix of verses from the Qur'an and hadith that can be referred to in relation to family planning. 

What Does the Bible Say About Family Planning?
February 2015 | Publication

This blog by CCIH member Dr. Paul Robinson explores the connections between family planning and the supporting theology.

Faith-based Organizations and Family Planning in Nigeria and Uganda in 2014
June 2014 | Video

This video is of a session at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on June 24, 2014, where Dr. Daniel Gobgab of the Christian Health Association of Nigeria and Dr. Tonny Tumwesigye of the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau discussed how their organizations are working with faith communities to increase family planning use for improved maternal and child health.

Faith and International Family Planning
February 2014 | Report

This report explores the intersection of faith and family planning discussing, the diverse and extensive work of faith-inspired organizations (FIOs) and faith leaders in family planning efforts throughout developing nations, as well as the ways in which faith can affect family planning policy.

Below you will find links to resources created by APC and other organizations.

External Resources

Christian Journal for Global Health
September 2014 | Journal Article

This journal disseminates evidence-based best practices; seeks to improve understanding of intercultural work in the context of health; and increases worldwide exposure to the innovations, experiences, and perspectives of global health workers.

Advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights through faith-based approaches: a mapping study
July 2014 | Study

This mapping study sheds light on the opportunities and barriers faith-based organizations face working on sexual and reproductive health.

Why Christian Values Support Family Planning
June 2014 | Infographic

This infographic from CCIH provides numbers on why Christian values support family planning.

Faith-based Organizations and Family Planning in Nigeria and Uganda in 2014
June 2014 | Video

This video is of a session at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on June 24, 2014, where Dr. Daniel Gobgab of the Christian Health Association of Nigeria and Dr. Tonny Tumwesigye of the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau discussed how their organizations are working with faith communities to increase family planning use for improved maternal and child health.

Faith and International Family Planning
February 2014 | Report

This report explores the intersection of faith and family planning discussing, the diverse and extensive work of faith-inspired organizations (FIOs) and faith leaders in family planning efforts throughout developing nations, as well as the ways in which faith can affect family planning policy.

A Common Cause: Faith-Based Organizations and Promoting Access to Family Planning in the Developing World
October 2013 | Journal Article

This article discusses the reasons why faith-based organizations have been promoting family planning services in the developing world.

Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 2010 | Report

This report summarizes the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s research on religion in Africa.

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