Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Faith-based organizations believe in family planning

British Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the London Summit.
This article was originally published on Impatient Optimists on July 19, 2012.
Faith-based organizations (FBOs) were well represented at last week’s London Summit on Family Planning thanks to the summit organizers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the British government. Ten faith leaders participated and, like most of the delegates, they thought the summit was a smashing success by securing financial commitments to reach an additional 120 million women and girls with voluntary family planning services.

Gary Darmstadt, head of the foundation’s Family Health Division, made clear his belief that FBOs are “critical to family planning” in a post-summit blog, pointing out that FBOs “provide up to 40 percent of the total healthcare in many countries in Africa.” It may be even higher than that in some countries.

“The only way the ambitious goals in child health and family planning can be reached is to mobilize the faith community along with other stakeholders, an ‘all hands-on-deck’ approach,” said Ray Martin, executive director of Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) . “Often the hardest-to-reach populations in rural areas and the urban poor are the ones most likely to be reachable by FBOs.”

Faith-based organizations hope to have a positive impact at London Family Planning Summit

Three African presidents and Melinda Gates at Family Planning Summit.
This article was originally published in the "On Faith" section of the Washington Post on July 10, 2012. 

When the British government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation bring together governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and the research and development community in London on July 11 for a major summit that hopes to rekindle the neglected embers of family planning, there will be one constituency there that might surprise some people — people of faith, including Christians (Catholics, mainline Protestants, and evangelicals), Muslims and other faiths.

These religious leaders are working to mobilize the faith community to work with governments, donors and other secular partners to bring family planning back as a major force in maternal, child and community health, something that has been downplayed the past two decades, in part because AIDS and other health issues took precedence, and in part because of the religious and political sensitivities to sexuality and family planning.

This faith support for family planning ranges from progressive Christians to Catholics and evangelicals.