Mullahs Help Promote Birth Control in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has the second highest maternal death rate in the world, according to the United Nations, with high fertility and low contraception use being significant factors.
However, an article recently published by the World Health Organization describes how the Accelerating Contraceptive Use (ACU) project, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was able to significantly increase contraceptive use by involving religious leaders in reaching their communities with contraceptives and messages about the benefits of family planning. Passages from the Koran, as well as messages that statistically contraception is safer than pregnancy, were used to promote a positive view of birth spacing to the community,
Working in three ethnically diverse areas of the country, together with the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health and local nongovernmental agencies, the project also worked closely with clinicians, community workers trained by the project, and couples to promote birth spacing and contraceptives. In eight months, the contraceptive prevalence rate increased 24-27 percentage points in project areas.
The success of the project led Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health to use the project's culturally innovative model to scale up contraceptive services nationwide.
Read coverage by the Associated Press
Listen to an interview with author Dr. Douglas Huber by Public Radio International's "The World"
For full text of the article from the Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Accelerating Contraceptive Use Project
Accelerating Contraceptive Use End-of Project Report (PDF 1.12 MB)
Expanding Contraceptive Use Project