Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Faith-based partnerships prove knowledge is power

By Ivy Couch*

LONDON – Faith leaders in many developing countries believe information about family planning should be the responsibility of the government, and for that reason, many clergy avoid the topic. This was one of many issues covered at the recent Third World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition. Global Mission Fellow Moses Alikali, presenter at the congress, notes that positive change is happening on this front, thanks to partnerships between local health boards and The United Methodist Church.

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PHOTO: MOSES ALIKALI

Alikali was placed with the Zimbabwe Health Office as a monitoring and evaluation officer through the Global Mission Fellows Program. He was one of 41 speakers representing 33 countries at the recent World Congress on Public Health and Nutrition. More than 70 scientists, development practitioners, public health specialists, and nutritionists shared their experiences at the international gathering.

The goal of Alikali’s study was to ascertain the attitude of pastors and other faith leaders on promoting family planning methods. “Because of their influence,” Alikali said, “faith leaders are important gatekeepers in disseminating reproductive-health messages and influencing positive behavioral change within communities.”

“Faith leaders often have an unparalleled opportunity, indeed, a moral obligation, to prioritize conversations about family planning, advocating, and closing the contraception gap,” Alikali noted during his presentation at the congress.

The impact of this is clear, in two years,150,000 unintended pregnancies and 50,000 unsafe abortions were avoided in Zimbabwe, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Behind this progress are the concerted efforts of many partners including Global Ministries, which collaborates with local health boards to disseminate family planning information to communities through church networks.

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PHOTO: MOSES ALIKALI

“This congress was an eye-opener to me, as I met and listened to presentations from prominent scientists and public-health practitioners,” Alikali said. “The progress can be attributed to the dissemination of knowledge surrounding health, community development, and family planning to women and families.”

Global Ministries continues to increase the opportunities for young adults to engage in mission throughout the connection through The Global Mission Fellows Program. Please consider giving to this program through Advance #13105z

*Ivy Couch is Communication Specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries.