On September 23, 2014, the USAID’s Heath Policy Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the religious and traditional leaders’ network in Burkina Faso, conducted a workshop to provide support to the development and validation of advocacy tools for the promotion of family planning in the country using religious and traditional leaders. The workshop was chaired by Dr Isabelle Bicaba, the Director of Family Heath, in the presence of Dr Didier Mbayi, who represented USAID and delivered a well-received speech. HPP, AgirPF, MSI, ABBEF and other NGOs also attended the meeting. The role of religion and tradition is crucial in the decision making process when it comes to using modern methods of contraception in a country such as Burkina Faso. Indeed, tradition and religious practice begins early in the family and continues throughout the life of the individual. Religious and traditional leaders are among the most influential and most respected people in society and their involvement and adherence to family planning programs is therefore essential. It is believed that religious leaders and traditional leaders are potential allies for promoting health programs and should be engaged in such activities.
The PowerPoint tools for advocacy and policy dialogue on “Islam and birth spacing,” “Christianity and birth spacing,” “Tradition and birth spacing,” were designed using extracts from the verses of the Holy Quran, Hadith from the Sunnah, the Bible and traditional lore appropriate for the promotion of birth spacing between the couple. With the development of the tools and the training provided, the leaders are committed to raise awareness about the importance of birth spacing. Many of them publicly acknowledged that, thanks to USAID through HPP, they feel more confident and safe to talk about issues of birth spacing and women rights.