Faith leaders gather in Abuja to map family health policies

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A one-day conference to engage leaders of faith in Nigeria’s religious communities on efforts to advance child and family health policies in the country opens today at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers in Abuja.

The conference is designed to answer core questions dogging global health experts on how, given their influence and community power, faith leaders can help address “disease burden and public health crises built around communities of faith,” according to a statement obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from The Partnership for Advocacy in child and Family Health, PACFaH, organisers of the conference in Abuja.

The Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria, FOMWAN, is the centre organisation supporting the project that is implemented by the development Research and Projects Centre [dRPC].

Conference organisers are hoping to find answers that will clarify for them “Just what are these communities of faith [are] expected to do in public health given that they are not clinicians? What is the optimal model for their engagement? How do we work with them when their conservative roots lead them to question the very interventions we are trying to engage them in?”

In the broad PACFaH project, the statement said, “FOMWAN is responsible for mobilizing Christian and Muslim faith based organizations as well as traditional leaders to take action on health by going to government and making demands for increased funding and compliance with child and family health policies.”

“FOMWAN has done an excellent job at introducing the objectives of the PACFaH project to religious and traditional leaders in the 7 focal states of the project (Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Nassarawa, Oyo, Lagos and Niger states), according to PACFaH, which in its statement said, for this reason, it hoped their impact could be improved if a forum was created for FOMWAN to learn from the experiences of other faith and public health projects.

The Sheraton Conference brings together 25 influential Muslim leaders from from Sokoto and Niger state to share experiences with FOMWAN on how they were able to be effective in two important areas of advocacy to government on health issues including family planning; and in the important area of preaching to the people to improve their health seeking behaviors.

Also five scholars from the Leadership Development Mechanism [LDM] program; an agency under the Institute for International Education, (IIE) and the Fulbright organization, a US based institute, with a branch in Bauchi State, will form part of the discussion.

Speakers at the event include Yahaya Hashim, Co-founder and Coordinator of development Research and Projects Centre [dRPC] and Usman Gwarzo; National Program Manager at the ‎Health Partners International.

The LDM and the related LDT projects were funded by the USAID and implemented by the dRPC.

Follow our liveblog of the event here

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