NUSA DUA, INDONESIA
Religious leaders from Kenya are part of the clergy gathered at this year's International Family Planning conference here to discuss their role in family planning.
The representatives from the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem), the Christian Health Association of Kenya, the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, the Hindu Council of Kenya and the Faith to Action Network are part of the clergy from 26 countries meeting to coordinate their contributions to the achievement of family planning and sustainable development goals (SDGs), which came into effect on January 1.
The 86 delegates said they would hold governments accountable on both issues even as they complained about being excluded from "decision and policy making in family planning and development initiatives."
"This is a lost opportunity by governments, donors and other partners where they can leverage faith resources to accelerate achievement of the various milestones in development,'' they said in a statement after their first meeting in Nusa Dua.
The religious leaders pledged "to continue" to provide and support quality family planning services and referrals to communities.
They would also continue to inform and educate their communities, "especially the youth and faith leaders'' on family planning," as is consistent with their values, recognising that this protects the lives and health of mothers, children and families,'' the leaders said.
ADVOCATE FOR FAMILY PLANNING
Mr Peter Munene, the Faith to Action Network international coordinator, said the clergy had agreed to advocate "internally' within the religious community to ensure they embrace family planning programs.
Some of faith-based Kenyan delegates at the conference are Mr Nitin Malde, the chairman of the Hindu Council of Kenya; Sheikh Ibrahim Lithome, a consultant with the United Nations Population Fund: Lattif Shaban and Msuri Hamisi of Supkem; Rev Simon Ngiki of World Provision Centre; Cynthia Nyakwama of World Vision Kenya; and Angela Mutegi and Vitalis Mukhebi of Faith to Action Network.
The four-day conference that opened on Monday brings together thousands of global health experts and policymakers, researchers, youth leaders, religious leaders and family planning advocates, including Indonesia President Joko Widodo and United Nations Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
They have been urging policymakers to improve global access to family planning resources and elevate it in the context of the new SDGs.
This year's conference, whose theme is "global commitments, local actions", is hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia.