153661 Working in partnership with different denominations: The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) and Muslim leaders two success stories from rural Ethiopia

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Barbara Pose, MD, MPH, DTM&PH , SRH Programm, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Nina Negash, BA , CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Sara Buchanan, MA, BA , Program Design and Quality Support, CARE Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Kristin King , CARE USA, Atlanta, GA
Khrist Roy, MD, MPH , CARE USA, Atlanta, GA
In rural Ethiopia, religion reflects and supports community identity. Engaging religious leaders is an essential route to change through improved governance and community competence and used by CARE Ethiopia in several health projects.

In Amhara, 527 religious leaders agreed to distribute Mother and Child Health messages after church. They provide counseling on house-to-house visits, supervise breastfeeding-support-groups and promote early health seeking behavior and child spacing. Consecutive Quality Assurance Samplings showed results exceeding targets since midterm of the project for most indicators: knowledge, health seeking behavior, exclusive breastfeeding, and introducing complementary food. In Afar, religious leaders were the entry point to the communities with a Family Planning Program including anti-FGC activities. They sensitized the communities that FGC is not required by the Koran and should be given up because of cruelty and health. Awareness rose to almost 100%. Although FGC remains widespread these early changes have shown, how trust can be established and pave the way for the deeper long term changes of harmful cultural practices.

To build community competence NGOs need strong community-based partners. Engaging religious leaders as partners should be considered whenever denominations have an almost complete coverage of a traditional community. Establishment of a shared vision of human rights and social equality facilitates collaboration. Challenges arise when concepts like family planning or condoms are promoted without exploring possible changes in goals and objectives so that a joint vision can be achieved. Economic power of a household and child spacing proved more acceptable for Christian and Muslim leaders.

Learning Objectives:
analyze the political environment and different stakeholders in communities to improve community health identify pros and cons implementing with faithbased partners

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.