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Pakistani Religious Scholar Speaks In Support Of Polio, Other Vaccines

“A radical Pakistani religious scholar known as the ‘Father of the Taliban’ has issued a fatwa urging parents to immunize their children against polio and other fatal diseases, adding that vaccinations comply with Islamic law,” Agence France-Presse reports. “The edict by Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, who heads the hardline Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary,…

Guttmacher Analysis Examines Faith-Based Groups’ Roles In Family Planning Services

“Contrary to public perception, faith-based organizations from diverse religious backgrounds are key players in the provision of family planning services around the world, and those based in the United States advocate for increased U.S. assistance in this area to boost global health, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis,” a…

Faith Leaders ‘Uniquely Positioned’ To Help Eliminate HIV/AIDS Stigma

“[T]here has been tremendous progress in the medical and scientific aspects of HIV and AIDS. But there has been much less progress on the social aspects of the pandemic, especially the stigma associated with the disease,” David Barstow, president of EMPACT Africa, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Religion” blog. “Leaders…

CAR Conflict Could Escalate Into Religious War, U.N. Official Warns

U.N. News Centre: Strife in Central African Republic could turn into religious war and spill over borders, U.N. warns “The worsening strife in the Central African Republic (CAR) with its Muslim-Christian overtones risks escalating into sustained violence along religious lines and spilling beyond the country’s borders, further destabilizing the whole…

Including Evangelical Christians In U.S. Foreign Aid Discussion

“Washington is in an era of budget-cutting, so we frequently hear calls to shrink or eliminate U.S. foreign-assistance programs,” which is why “several religious groups … are highlighting how these programs reduce global poverty and hunger, saving millions of lives,” Richard Stearns, president of World Vision USA, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. However, he says “evangelical Christians [are] largely absent from this religious coalition” and notes that “a Pew survey earlier this year found that 56 percent of evangelicals think ‘aid to the world’s poor’ should be the first thing cut from the federal budget.”

Philippines Government Must Support Reproductive Health Law

“Women in the Philippines have lacked autonomy over their bodies for decades. The overwhelming political power of the country’s Catholic church leaders — and the government’s acquiescence to many of their demands — has resulted in reproductive health care restrictions so severe they amount to human rights violations,” Melissa Upreti,…

U.N. Food Agencies Welcome Pope Francis’s Commitment To Helping Poor, Hungry

“United Nations officials [on Tuesday] welcomed Pope Francis’ public commitment to support those who live in poverty and suffer from hunger, and expressed their readiness to work with the new leader of the Catholic Church on these issues,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/19). “Striking a tone of radical humility that…

Religion, Religious Leaders Have Been Central To Health, Development Improvements In Africa

“After decades of doom-and-gloom news about AIDS in Africa, optimism is finally in the air,” Jenny Trinitapoli, an assistant professor of sociology, demography, and religious studies at Penn State University, and Alexander Weinreb, an associate professor in the department of sociology and a research associate at the Population Research Center…

Pope Francis’s Pledge To Poor Can Translate Into Social Action

Writing in a SciDev.Net feature article, journalist Imogen Mathers examines what the election of the new pope will mean for the development sector. “With the sector gearing up for World Health Day this weekend (7 April), debates continue about what changes — if any — Pope Francis I will make…