HPP-supported Population Weekends: The USAID-funded Health Policy Project (HPP), has been working in a complementary effort with religious leaders to engage them as community advocates for family planning in Malawi, most notably through “Population Weekend” events. The idea behind is that religious leaders integrate family planning population messages in their sermons and routine activities. In this work, HPP collaborates with the key Religious Governing Councils in Malawi.
On a population Friday, Muslims integrate family planning population messages in their sermons; with Christians doing the same on Saturday for Seventh Day; Sunday, for the rest of the Christian community. Prior to Population Weekend, meetings are conducted with religious leaders both at district and Traditional Authority levels in order to sensitise them, plan and schedule dates for the proposed Population Weekend.
Population Weekends have, so far, been implemented in Mangochi, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Karonga, Balaka Nkhotakota, Thyolo, Salima and Mchnji districts. Plans are underway to roll out the Population Weekend in other districts.
HPP-supported Joint Open Days: Borrowing the Population Weekend approach, the concept behind a Joint Open Day goes a step further by bringing all religious groups together. The idea behind the Joint Open Day stems from the fact that all religions are supportive of family planning as a means of achieving better health and development outcomes. As such, during this day, the faith community comes with one theme that is supportive of population issues and that family planning is a key strategy to achieving development goals.
The open day is conducted on an open ground where each religious mother body showcases their individual population messages in support of FP. These messages are however respective of different doctrines that govern each of the corresponding religious groups. The first ever religious leaders’ joint open day on population and development was done in Balaka district on 26th June, 2014.