[Episcopal Relief & Development] An interfaith coalition of faith-based organizations has announced it will mobilize one million faith leaders over the next five years to help improve the health of women and children in countries with high child mortality rates.
The Faith Alliance for Health comprises CMMB - Healthier Lives Worldwide, Catholic Relief Services, Episcopal Relief & Development, Islamic Relief USA, the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association, and World Vision. The partnership also benefits from a very strong set of committed advisors from the donor, multi-lateral, and consultant communities.
The group’s commitment to build capacity of local faith leadership and networks to promote both behavior change and increase demand for maternal, child and adolescent health services is its significant contribution to the next phase of the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy.
Anwar Khan, CEO of Islamic Relief, USA, officially presented the Faith Alliance for Health’s commitment at the Every Woman Every Child launch on Saturday, September 26, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Khan highlighted that marshalling faith leaders’ reach and influence in communities is the Alliance’s strength: “It’s estimated that 84% of the world’s population identify with a religious group. Our newly formed Faith Alliance for Health will capitalize on this fact and [that] faith leaders are key to promoting behaviors that protect the health of the most vulnerable members of our society to accelerate the achievement of SDGs 2 and 3.”
“All faiths want to see women and children everywhere survive and thrive. This is why we will work together to mobilize one million faith leaders to reach 50 million families or an estimated 250 million people living in countries with a high burden of child deaths,” Khan said.
Episcopal Relief & Development has done substantial work in the field of child and maternal health, beginning with its flagship malaria prevention program, NetsforLife®, which to date has prevented more than 112,000 child deaths through engaging faith networks in community education, net distribution and robust follow-up to ensure continued net use. The organization has since expanded successful Early Childhood Development programs in Zambia and later Ghana and Kenya with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.
“Our work in the area of child and maternal health is part of our overall integrated health focus, which seeks to empower communities with knowledge and practices to support nutrition, disease prevention and accurate detection and treatment of illnesses,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs.
“Throughout our work, we find that strengthening and mobilizing local faith networks is the most effective way not only to produce results but to create lasting change for generations to come. We are proud to be a part of the Faith Alliance for Health’s bold commitment to Every Woman Every Child and excited to work with our interfaith partners to achieve this movement’s goals.”