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Addressing Myths Creates Committed Advocates in Jordan

Sheikh Nael, an Awqaf Imam and Muslim Marriage Officiant from Ghor Al-Safi, didn’t appove of many types of birth control. "We have previously refused to cooperate with Internationally-funded projects working on reproductive health and family planning,” he said at the opening of the first Community Health Committee (CHC) meeting held in Ghor Al-Safi near Karak. “Contraceptives may cause infertility, and this is against our community’s best interest."

But as the meeting sponsored by the Abt Global-led USAID Health Service Delivery (HSD) Activity progressed, Sheikh Nael’s views shifted. An Abt facilitator from the HSD Activity gave participants the chance to express their ideas. And soon an educator, a doctor, and a midwife countered these views by providing religious evidence and medical facts and explained the benefits of family planning. Moreover, HSD’s Community and Outreach Team introduced participants to the major objectives and expected outcomes of the Activity, which has improved the health status of women and children.

Attending the meeting were representatives of educational, health, religious, and local community organizations in Ghor Al-Safi. The goal was to establish a CHC in their area to support the efforts of Ministry of Health (MOH) to improve access to and use of quality integrated reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health (RMNCH) services at the service delivery points in their catchment area.

The meeting also introduced Sheikh Nael and other participants to the respected role of CHCs in:

  • identifying and addressing health priorities in their communities
  • providing feedback on health services
  • encouraging people to adopt healthy practices
  • informing community members of their rights and duties as recipients of health services
  • promoting integrated RMNCH services, including counseling on nutrition, and screening and referrals for non-communicable diseases and gender-based violence (RMNCH+).

“I’m in for sure,” replied Sheikh Nael when the Abt facilitator asked participants about their willingness to join and commit to assigned duties as CHC members.

Sheikh Nael actively participated in the work group session and presented on behalf of his group a number of solutions to improve RMNCH+ services, such as conducting regular visits to health centers to identify gaps and provide feedback. As an Awqaf Imam, he expressed his support for MOH objectives, saying, “I’m ready to advocate for RMNCH+ services and help promote healthy practices and proper client behavior through religious cycles and Friday prayers.” 

In less than a month following the workshop, Sheikh Nael had proved his commitment to the committee by actively participating in CHC-sponsored community awareness activities.

 
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