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Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy

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Presentation on theme: "Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy"— Presentation transcript:

1 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
Bishop Dr. Stanley Michael Michuki Chairman – Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches and Ministries, Kenya Cancer Foundation Board Member – Kenya Cancer Association

2 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
The Need Religion is a beacon of hope to many. A huge majority of people turn to religion or the Church at times of great need. It is important to ensure that the Churches they turn to understand what they are going through and knowledgeable enough to be able to help. Using Churches and Religious leaders as partners in the advocacy effort would greatly widen the reach of the advocacy message with using too many resources. The voices and support of religious leaders and churches would also lend credence to advocacy efforts in areas where people are ignorant of Cancer and Cancer advocacy. Incorporating Spiritual support into cancer care and advocacy efforts would be of great benefit to Cancer Patients, Survivors, their Families, Caregivers and also the doctors and nurses supporting them. It can also be an avenue to reach more people. Churches and their members have the potential to be recruited in the advocacy efforts as volunteers and in community outreach, supporting advocates, survivors, patients and families.

3 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
Opportunities offered by Churches Most churches are community oriented and will be willing to listen to people or groups who seek to work with them to positively impact the community. Most Churches already have organized groups e.g. Women’s Fellowships, Men’s fellowship. These groups make it easy to reach sections of the society that are sometimes harder to reach. The support of religious leaders for the advocacy message and effort goes a long way in ensuring an attentive audience not only in the church but also in the wider community Not a lot of resources are needed in reaching a wide group of people. Sometimes only reaching the Pastor gives access to a huge number of people without conducting a big campaign. Most churches will also be willing to offer their resources e.g. meeting halls, Public Address systems etc. for community outreach.

4 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
The Challenges Lack of Information on Cancer. Most Pastors and their Congregations, although willing to help do not have adequate information about cancer ~ What it is, How it is transmitted, how to help etc. In some instances it is possible to encounter wrong belief’s e.g. Cancer is God’s Punishment for sin, It is witchcraft etc. Resources. Most Churches and Pastors would be willing to offer their church resources for advocacy. However their ability varies and is sometimes inadequate. Some Churches and Congregations can be isolated and divided and therefore very suspicious of outsiders. Although this makes them harder to reach, the fact that Cancer is more prevalent than it was earlier may make them easier to reach

5 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
The Approach Respect Religious Beliefs: - If approached correctly, Religious Leaders and Churches would be greatly beneficial to advocacy. Acknowledge Religion and also consider the patients/survivors belief during advocacy. Where possible, provide religious resources. In the case where there are myths or wrong beliefs, use a soft approach to educate and get rid of the beliefs. Most Religious Leaders offer support to Cancer Patients, Survivors and their Families. Where possible, make available to them the same resources that you would give to other caregivers, patients, survivors and family members. Integrate Spiritual Support in advocacy efforts. Where possible, advocacy organizations can have an outreach program/members who work with religious groups. Also Advocates should consider offering spiritual support e.g. praying with Survivors, where it doesn’t conflict with their own beliefs.

6 Engaging Churches and Religious Leaders in Cancer Advocacy
The Approach When working with Religious groups, if possible, offer to help establish Cancer support groups, forums or ministries. This may involve training on: Setting a vision, goals and targets Training on Cancer Advocacy Specifying procedures Drumming up support and raising awareness for the need to get involved in advocacy not only for church members but also for the community Providing Leadership and coordination with other advocacy groups Nurturing the Advocacy and Care ministry to ensure it will be sustainable After the initial Help in starting the ministries, it is a good idea to offer partnership and on going support

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