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WHO publishes recommendations for faith-based communities in context of COVID-19

WHO publishes recommendations for faith-based communities in context of COVID-19

Dr Makoka and Dr Kurian Photo: Grégoire de Fombelle/WCC

09 April 2020

The World Health Organization has published “Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19,” a document  and risk assessment tool for religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and faith communities in COVID-19 education, preparedness, and response.

The text shares evidence-based information, and also recommends avoiding large group gatherings as well as conducting rituals and faith-related activities remotely or virtually whenever possible. Any decision to hold a group gathering for worship, education or social purposes should also be “based on a sound risk assessment and in line with guidance from national and local authorities,” the document recommends.

The recommendations were developed by WHO, working with a broad spectrum of people of faith and organisations, including the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Dr Mwai Makoka, WCC programme executive for Health and Healing, reflected that religious leaders are a link in the chain of translating public health policies into the practical realities of people in different geographical and socio-economic settings. “Religious leaders are a critical link because of their rootedness in their communities which foster trust with the people and long-term practical commitment to their welfare,” said Makoka. “This guidance note from WHO, developed with inputs from the WCC and other faith leaders, is a recognition of this link and an invitation for more meaningful and sustained engagement between faith leaders and public health actors.”

Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the interconnectedness of all humanity, and our mutual accountability to each other. “The pandemic is an opportunity for all people of faith and goodwill, to overcome divisions and stand with scientists and speak with one voice, and act in an informed and inspired manner, to protect and preserve life,” said Kurian. "These recommendations from WHO are a vital resource to equip faith communities during these challenging times.”

WCC webpage "Coping with the Coronavirus"

Link to WHO