Presentation on theme: "Building Support Among Religious Leaders for HIV/AIDS Programs in Ethiopia."— Presentation transcript:
Building Support Among Religious Leaders for HIV/AIDS Programs in Ethiopia
Dr. Ayele Belachew POLICY Project Country Coordinator, Ethiopia and Ms. Eleni Seyoum POLICY Project Resident Advisor, Ethiopia P O L I C YP O L I C YP O L I C YP O L I C Y
Church & Ethiopian Society Ethiopians are greatly influenced in their daily life by their spiritual belief in God and religious leaders. Religious institutions and leaders provide a good medium of communication to an audience which is generally respectful and receptive to the preachings of such leaders. Religious institutions are dispersed throughout the country, and thereby have the capacity to reach a much larger number of people.
Objectives Increase commitment among religious leaders in the battle against HIV/AIDS Involve religious leaders in designing community HIV/AIDS awareness programs to help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with infected persons. Use Frequently Asked Questions in program design.
Strategies for Religious Leaders Advocacy work at various levels Training of leaders in HIV/AIDS issues Panel discussions Production and distribution of training materials HIV/AIDS teaching as a part of religious preaching Frequent formal & informal communication with religious leaders
Accomplishments of POLICY 4HIV/AIDS Control Programs established or strengthened in: –Orthodox Community –Catholic Christian Society –Evangelical Christian Family Churches –Muslim Community 4Denominational Anti-HIV/AIDS Task Forces established at regional level and a committee at the local churches level
Accomplishments of POLICY 4HIV/AIDS leadership training provided at several sites of the Evangelical Church 4Counseling assessment results dissemination workshop 4Facilitated the creation of a National Inter- religious Group Anti-AIDS Network 4Organized HIV/AIDS discussion in the Islamic Supreme Council annual leaders congress
Accomplishments of POLICY 4Conducted an HIV/AIDS Commission familiarization workshop for the Evangelical Church fellowship denomination leaders 4Two operational studies on HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitudes and practices of religious leaders and Frequently asked questions by religious leaders
Examples of EECMY activities EECMY works all over the country through 15 working units Serves over 3 million active members each week Established an HIV/AIDS/STD prevention and control program in 1988. Produces and distributes IEC material Provides training, counselling and social support to PLWHAs Conducts a rehabilitation program for high-risk groups
Inter-religious Group Network Representatives of 4 major religious organizations attended a workshop to initiate an inter-religious group alliance against HIV/AIDS. Religious communities formed the Inter- religious group HIV/AIDS network and developed HIV/AIDS Networking Guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions by Religious Leaders Were there specific questions which lead to reluctance of religious leaders to get involved? Appropriate responses to these questions were formulated by AIDS professionals and church leaders These responses were incorporated in revised training and counseling materials.
Frequently Asked Questions by Religious Leaders Is HIV Gods punishment? How can the church intervene? Why should the church be concerned with HIV/AIDS? What kind of programs can religious organizations conduct? How can the institutions network with one another? How can we induce people to get tested for HIV? How can anti-HIV/AIDS programs be sustained?
Frequently Asked Questions by Religious Leaders Other questions raised included condom issues. Is mandatory testing before marriage appropriate? What are the options for AIDS education including appropriate sites and target groups?
Lessons Learned Properly attending to the hidden questions that religious leaders ask is a crucial step in the process of involving them in the front line of HIV/AIDS policy discussions and program interventions. Following the revised training sessions, most of the leaders were found to initiate anti-AIDS programs at various levels in their institutions. They became active supporters of expanded HIV/AIDS prevention, counseling, care and support activities in their communities.
Conclusions Religious stakeholders should be free to design their own specific intervention programs and be able to collaborate with other groups with equality and mutual respect Religious thinking often conflicts with scientific thinking, and therefore a step by step discussion process is essential Governments secular support of religious organizations is critical for their participation in this process
The POLICY Project is funded by USAID and implemented by The Futures Group International in collaboration with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA). P O L I CP O L I CP O L I CP O L I C Y
P O L I C YP O L I C YP O L I C YP O L I C Y The POLICY Project is funded by USAID and implemented by The Futures Group International in collaboration with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and The Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA).