The Director of Information Service Isatou Davies-Ann has said the role of religious leaders is crucial in the implementation of the National Population Policy Programmes.
She said this is due to the relation between religion, population and development is a key element in implementing population programmes.
However, she said challenging issues emanate from misconceptions and misinterpretations of religious tenets by scholars due to lack of understanding of population strategies in bringing about a balance between population growth and economic and social development.
She was speaking during a one-day training for members of the Supreme Islamic Council’s (SIC) Committee on Islam on “Population and Development” held at the SIC Head Office in Kanifing.
She said the event was organised by the Department of Information Services on the purview of the Awareness on Reproductive Health and Rights and Gender Project under the National Population Programme funded by the UNFPA.
She said considerable efforts have been made over the years in sensitizing religious scholars as a strategy to create understanding and to dispel misconceptions and increase perceptive of family planning and reproductive health services by men and women alike. This, she said will reduce incidents of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.
Bintou Suso, Assistant UNFPA Country Representative in The Gambia, said since the founding of Gambia’s Population Programme in 1973, UNFPA has strategically partnered with religious leaders by establishing the Committee on Islam, Population and Development and the Committee on Christianity Population and Development respectively.
“These partnerships are formed around common challenges such as family planning, maternal health, gender issues, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence including female genital mutilation,” she said. Source - The Voice