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The World Health Organization Asks Religious Leaders for Support During COVID-19

-Editorial

Today marks 100 days since the World Health Organization was notified of the first cases of “pneumonia with unknown cause” in China. In yesterday’s media briefing, Director-General Dr. Tedros recalled the work that WHO and its partners have been doing over this period and the continuing efforts to stop the pandemic in five key areas.

As millions of Christians, Jews and Muslims celebrate Easter, Passover, and Ramadan, WHO has released guidance for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19.

Religious leaders, faith-based organizations, and faith communities can play a major role in saving lives, WHO said.

They are a primary source of support, comfort, guidance, and direct health care and social service, for the communities they serve.

Religious leaders of faith-based organizations and communities of faith can share health information to protect their own members and wider communities, which may be more likely to be accepted than from other sources.

They can provide pastoral and spiritual support during public health emergencies and other health challenges and can advocate for the needs of vulnerable populations.

By sharing clear, evidence-based steps to prevent COVID-19, religious-inspired institutions can promote helpful information, prevent and reduce fear and stigma, provide reassurance to people in their communities, and promote health-saving practices.

Religious leaders are integrated into their communities through service and compassionate networks and are often able to reach the most vulnerable with assistance and health information and identify those most in need. They are a critical link in the safety net for vulnerable people within their faith community and wider communities.

WHO advises keeping social distancing, prevent touching between people attending services, prevent touching or kissing of devotional and other objects that the community is accustomed to handling communally, encourage healthy hygiene among participants in faith services and other activities when gatherings are permitted, and frequently clean worship spaces, sites, and buildings.

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