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Community Participation Activates UP Standing Committee

“As an Imam of the mosque, I use to deliver religious messages to the Muslims during prayer, especially on the Jumma day (Friday). Bedsides playing the role of Imam, I am also the member of Union Education, Health and Family Planning Standing Committee of Baghuatia UP of Abhaynagar Upazila” said Mr. Afzal Hossain. As an elderly person most people listen to me and follow my suggestions. I have received health messages from the primary health care training organized by VERC and BKF. Then I started to deliver health messages to motivate community people to attain services from the government health service points. My reputation helped me to mobilize the community people at mosques, academic institutions, social and religious functions, etc.

During Khutba, the speech of the Imam, I generally talked about antenatal care and postnatal care (ANC & PNC services), importance of regular immunization (through EPI), breast feeding counseling, management of diarrhoea and malnutrition, distribution of Vitamin A capsule, identification and treatment of anemia in women and its relations with prayer citing verses from the holy Quran. After participation in the orientation sessions I included the issues of antenatal care and postnatal care (ANC & PNC services), regular immunization (through EPI), breast feeding and its impact on health and household economy more systematically.

He added, “My realization has been changed on antenatal care and postnatal care after getting messages in this regard through participation in a discussion session on health programme. It opened my eyes to correlate these messages to social issues. From that realization I am still continuing delivering those messages for the sake of the community people”.

The Imam said, “It was a superstition among people that ‘Anemia’, ‘Infant mortality ’, etc, are considered as ‘Bala mochibat’ as consequences of evil act of people. When the incidences of evil act increase God sends these diseases. Accordingly, it is also the symbolic message to people for remembering God more frequently and to remain away form evil tasks.

He also stated that some people called the Fokir (Spiritual leader) to help prevent the village from Bala mochhibat. Then the Fokir was given money for his work. “From my realization, I used to advice people to take proper treatment, get ANC and PNC checkup at their nearest health service center and maintain hygienic life to keep away all the Bala mochibats”, he said.

He said, “After receiving hygiene message, the community people became aware about the causes of health hazard and they have become used to get to the service points in times of need. The incidence of complication related disease of pregnant mothers has reduced substantially in the community. Despite increase of knowledge I am continuing to deliver messages for the sake of sustainability of the achievements. At present, I am regularly monitoring and visiting the communities to assess the status of use and sustenance of achievement of health service center”, he said.

Several times I emphasized on establishing a mechanism that would ensure participation of the respective community people which will lead people to sustain the achievement. As an Imam I will continue to give messages to people till Allah continues to bless me with that opportunity’, said Mr. Afzal Hossain.

His dreams that one day he will be able to establish a religious forum to share the knowledge of community people to address the health problems and remove them forever.