religious leaders

 {Photo credit: Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH).}Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, chief of party of MSH Nigeria (right), and Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist (left), participate in the family planning discussion in Washington, DC.Photo credit: Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH).

On December 3, Management Sciences for Health participated in an event organized by Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) on the importance of family planning for reducing maternal deaths and improving child survival. The informative Capitol Hill panel discussion (Where Do Christians Stand on Family Planning? Voices from the Global South) dispelled several misconceptions about Christian views on family planning and examined the under-reported role that many Christian organizations play in this sector. Panelists addressed two key myths.

Myth: Family planning equals abortion

Reverend Richard Cizik, the President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, said this myth is the most persistent and inaccurate. In fact, family planning encompasses a range of health interventions ranging from healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, counseling and education, breastfeeding, and contraceptive use.

Grace Tsawe owns a prayer camp in Ghana's Lower Manya Krobo District. She recovered from TB, and uses her experience to encourage others to be tested and treated medically for TB. {Photo credit: B. Adusei/MSH.}Photo credit: B. Adusei/MSH.

Tuberculosis (TB) control in Ghana is challenging: detection of TB cases is low, and TB mortality rates high. In many communities, like Lower Manya Krobo District, these challenges are compounded by the popular belief that TB is a spiritual disease. Many Ghanaians who contract TB seek healing in prayer camps and shrines, rather than going to health facilities for testing and treatment. By the time these patients seek medical care, it often is too late to recover and avert death.

Lower Manya Krobo District has over 93,000 residents, and a high incidence of TB (209 cases per 100,000 people in 2011). The district is also home to many of the nation’s mushrooming prayer camps, where local healers provide daily services for ill residents. There are 50 prayer camps in Lower Manya Krobo District---and only 18 health facilities.

Grace Tsawe owns a prayer camp in this district, and she usually sees over 100 patients on her main clinic day.

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