239092 Muslim religious scholars impact maternal and newborn health in Pakistan

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 10:50 AM

Suruchi Sood, PhD , 4 Wortham Ct, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Bear, DE
Atif Butt , Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Islamabad, Pakistan
Fayyaz Khan , Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Islamabad, Pakistan
Rabia Jamy , Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Islamabad, Pakistan
Kimberly Rook , Center for Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Basil Safi, Asia Division Chief , Center of Communication Programs, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: Current trends indicate that despite improvements over past 20 years, Pakistan still falls short of millennium development goals for maternal and infant health. Pakistan's maternal mortality ratio (276 per 100,000) and infant mortality rate (78 per 1,000) are among the world's highest (Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, 2006-2007).

Methods: As part of a larger ecologically based project, an intervention was designed to collaborate with influential Muslim religious scholars (Ulama) to sensitize them on maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) issues and engage them in improving community level MNCH. The intervention used Ulama led Friday sermons to reach male congregations. Over the course of one year, 400 Ulama were sensitized, in security-challenged areas with limited access to other information sources.

Evaluators randomly selected and assigned 51 mosques to intervention or comparison groups. A mixed methods evaluation including direct observations, in depth interviews, focus groups and exit interviews examined the intervention's effectiveness.

Results: Ulama participation was high. Exit interviews with 1,167 men (mean age: 40 years) found men exposed to messages had significantly higher knowledge and more positive attitudes compared with men unexposed: antenatal care (91 vs. 66%), birth preparedness (93 vs. 88%), transport planning (61 vs. 41%), saving money (75 vs. 49%), and delayed newborn bathing (41 vs. 28%).

Conclusions: The program provided a platform for community level collaboration and demonstrated the effectiveness of engaging religious leaders, and leveraging religious sermons as a forum to reach men, key decision-makers, to improve the lives of mothers and newborns in Pakistan.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the processes of designing and implementing an intervention sensitizing Muslim religious scholars (Ulama) and eliciting their support as advocates for maternal neonatal and child health (MNCH) in Pakistan. Examine the interventionís effectiveness in terms of reaching Ulama. Evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention vis a vis its impact on male congregationsí MNCH knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that families and communities can adopt to improve MNCH conditions in Pakistan.

Keywords: Maternal Health, Community Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Primary researcher on the project
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.