October 20, 2015

Family Planning and the Faith Community

Faith leaders meet to address gaps in family planning at The International Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia.

Washington, DC – According to the World Health Organization, more than 289,000 women needlessly died from complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2013 alone. Without the means to time and space pregnancies, women and infants face a significant health risk as poorly timed or closely spaced pregnancies endanger both mothers and children. More than 222 million women lack access to family planning methods to safely space the births of their children.

On November 8-9, faith leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations from many nations will meet in a Faith Pre-Conference at the International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. They will discuss best practices in faith-based involvement in family planning and how faith communities can advocate for increased support from their governments for lifesaving family planning services. Experts can be made available to discuss family planning and the role of religious organizations in the developing world.

Faith Communities are Critical Partners in Family Planning

Faith leaders are highly respected influential leaders in communities. A 2006 Gallup Poll asked sub-Saharan Africans in 19 countries about their confidence in social and political institutions. Overall across the continent 76% said they trusted religious organizations over all others. This trust makes local faith leaders the ideal conduit for family planning discussions.

Faith is integral to so many communities, especially in developing nations, the faith community is in an ideal position to provide services, educate communities, and dispel prominent myths about family planning.

What is Family Planning?

Family planning can be misunderstood. The term can sometimes be confused with abortion, and different religions or denominations have varying positions on the topic, but all can support protecting the health of women and children. While hearing a positive message about contraception from a religious leader may be surprising, according to Dr. Tonny Tumwesigye of the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau (UPMB), it should not be. “Biblically speaking, family planning is supported because it helps provide life in its fullest,” said Dr. Tumwesigye, who serves as executive director of the network of 283 Protestant church-affiliated health facilities.

“If you have 100 children who are miserable, you have made the world a worse place. If you have the number of children you can successfully educate and who can enjoy good health and fulfill their potential, you are making the world a better place,” he said.

About CCIH:

Christian Connections for International Health is a diverse network of approximately 170 organizations and 350 individuals from across the globe. Its mission is to promote international health and wholeness from a Christian perspective. CCIH is serving as a co-chair of the ICFP Faith Subcommittee along with Faith to Action and Muhammadiyah. For more information, visit http://ccih.org and www.fpconference.org/2015. Follow @CCInthealth, @ICFP2015 and #ICFPFaith on Twitter

Contacts: Until November 5: Chris Glass / chrisglass1@gmail.com 717-638-8110

After November 5 and onsite at ICFP: David Olson / olson.david.jule@gmail.com  202-320-3114