Date Published: 14 July 2009
Female religious leaders in Algeria teach about maternal and child health
UNICEF and the Algerian ministries of Religious Affairs and Health have launched a series of training sessions for mourchidates (women preachers, female religious leaders). The training offered is designed to empower mourchidates to promote and protect the health of women and children in Algeria.
According to recent information from UNICEF more than 30 mourchidates have been trained so far. This is part of an overall effort to provide educational support to 300 women preachers throughout Algeria. The purpose of the programme is to introduce participants to principles of communication for behavioral change and to supply them with important information about the health of mothers and children, as well as to highlight the role of communication in promoting health.
This programme is expected to have considerable beneficial effects because lack of accurate information negatively impacts the health of many mothers and children in Algeria and mourchidates can play a key role by informing women in mosques through guidance and awareness campaigns.
According to UNICEF estimates, the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes in Algeria is 180 per 100,000 live births. Only 7% of children are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life and 11% of children under the age of five suffer from stunting - which can result from malnutrition.
" The next step for us is to reach out to women and mothers and provide them with the information they need for their wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of their children," said Samira, one of the participants in this programme.
" Such information will have a positive impact on the health and development of children as well as the mothers themselves."
UNICEF is partnering with the Algerian government to provide women religious leaders key messages on protecting maternal and child health.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
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