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ESD Model: Mobilizing Muslim Imams & Religious Leaders as “Champions”

There is growing recognition that religious leaders and communities of faith play an important role in shaping health seeking behavior, especially in conservative, traditional societies where science, religion, politics, culture, and morality intersect. They often act as arbiters of morality, ethics and of what is prescribed or proscribed by faith. Their opinions strongly dictate the behavioral norms of their communities, in particular maternal, neonatal, and child health. In environments where Islamic teachings are thought to be prohibitions, Imams and other Muslim religious leaders are able to play  an intrinsic role, re-interpreting, authenticating and guiding their congregations according to foundational Islamic beliefs. Consequently, activities supported by religious leaders and religious institutions have the potential to promote and sustain positive changes in maternal, neonatal, and child health, including changes in behaviors related to pregnancy spacing and delaying the first pregnancy.

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