For the purposes of this Guide, FBO refers to nonprofit organizations associated with or inspired by religion or religious beliefs.
FBOs and religious groups have provided healthcare in developing countries for well over a century. Today they provide approximately 40 percent of healthcare services in sub-Saharan Africa. They often have a good understanding of the local context, speak out for the disenfranchised, deliver higher quality services, mobilize energy and resources, contribute to consensus-building and connect local communities with higher authorities. Sometimes, FBOs can be the only development-focused organizations in a remote community, or they have been there the longest. Their close links to communities and influence over them provide them with an ideal opportunity to promote SBCC and address other cultural factors contributing to high child morbidity and mortality.
Religious values and practices are often deeply entwined in the fabric of daily lives. FBOs tend to grow from and build on faith communities’ belief that they have a moral imperative to help those in need and improve the human condition. FBOs may focus on issues of morality more than secular organizations, such as rules of family life and the spiritual basis of disease. FBOs’ ability to ground their work in religion can enhance their influence with communities, as it enables them to call on people’s moral duty. This I-Kit seeks to recognize and link the unique assets of FBOs and faith communities – for example, religious leaders, religious texts, congregations, women’s groups, moral authority, infrastructure and firm footing in the community – to SBCC methodologies to improve breastfeeding practices.
Every day FBOs work to better the world and their communities by caring for those in need. They play an enormous role in providing health information and health care all over the world. FBO hospitals and clinics are often the most respected and trusted health care providers in communities of all sizes.
The emphasis of this Guide is to help FBOs reach faith communities and the broader community with successful breastfeeding SBCC interventions. This might mean working with and through religious institutions—for example, the sheer scale of the religious infrastructure in many countries can mobilize large numbers of people to act—but it might also mean simply tailoring messages and interventions to the religious values of communities.
Banda, M. et al., Multi-Country Study of Medicine Supply and Distribution Activities of Faith Based Organizations in Sub-Saharan African Countries, WHO/PSM/PAR, 2006