The PaRD Health Workstream focuses on SDG 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Since its inception, the workstream has been focusing on SDG 3 sub-goal 3.8 Universal health coverage, with a focus on maternal new-born and child health (3.1/3.2) and Sexual Reproductive Health/HIV/AIDS (3.3/3.7). As a result of this workstream, a few members conducted a scoping study on “Faith Actor Partnerships in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health”. The study can be found here. In addition, the workstream hosted a side event at the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver in 2019.
A survey conducted by the workstream members at the end of 2019, showed a growing interest in focusing on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). After further consultations and evaluation on the gaps and role of faith/religious actors in MHPSS, the workstream saw it fit to collaborate with actors working on mental health in the humanitarian field, especially children living in fragile settings.
In collaboration with Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Institute for Global Health & Development at Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh) – both institutions having long history of research in the area of MHPSS with displaced populations – the workstream commissioned a research on ‘faith-based MHPSS with children in humanitarian setting’. The research aimed at establishing the effectiveness of the different types of faith-based approaches to MHPSS (i.e., what works where, with whom, why and how?) and providing an overview of the gaps in knowledge, skills and technical support that both secular organizations and FBOs need in regard to faith literacy and/or MHPPS expertise.
In addition, the research examined new developments and needs caused by the recent COVID-19 crisis in relation to children’s wellbeing and the ability of faith-sensitive programmes to respond to these challenges. The initiative was been divided into 3 phases i.e (i) Scoping the evidence & practices, (ii) In-depth analysis of principles & practices underlying effective examples, (iii) preliminary development of guidance and toolkit. The first phase the research has been completed and the work-stream is looking into implementing the remaining phases.
As a collaborative work among the PaRD workstreams, the Health Workstream has participated in the production of a podcast together with the Sustaining Peace (SDG 16), WECARE (SDG 6, 13, 14, 15) and the Gender Equality and Empowerment (SDG 5) Workstreams. The podcast titled: Identifying Funding and Resource Gaps with COVID-19 in the Field: A Religious Actors Perspective on Health, Gender, Environment and Peace has been submitted to the Geneva Peace Week 2020 and was launched as a digital product under the theme “Peacebuilding in a COVID-19 era and beyond” during the Geneva Peace Week, 2-6 November 2020.
With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the workstream has convened several online exchanges, with key partners like WHO, discussing ways to flatten the transmission curve and respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health and Sustaining Peace workstreams have conducted a three-part virtual series from September to November 2021 on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) with over 450 participants. The series again focused on fostering resilience and wellbeing of children on the move during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on this, the workstreams have developed a booklet to be launched in January 2022.
Together with the Gender Equality Workstream and with the help of JLI, Berkley Center and WFDD, the Health Workstream is developing an online repository of resources on “Religious Responses to COVID-19”. During the General Assembly of Members (GAM) in South Africa, the Health Workstream hosted two hybrid Regional Forums on Southern Africa and Asia that brought together local religious communities with key multilateral entities and governments to discuss challenges - and local solutions - to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the Workstream aims to collaborate with key partners delve deep into the topics.