Faces of Religious Influence

Religious leaders help fight polio in Somalia – and across the globe

20130618_ReligiousLeadersSomalia
A girl receives vaccination in Bossaso, Puntland, Somalia. UNICEF Somalia/Dhayi

“All of you are guardians, and all of you will be asked about the wellbeing of those you are responsible for.“ –An Islamic Hadith

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith…” – The Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 5:8

Religious leaders are vital to the worldwide effort to free children from the scourge of polio. In countries where polio has recently been wiped out (Angola, Chad, India and DRC), Islamic and Christian religious influencers were trailblazers in their communities. They built bridges to parents when trust was fragile, helped overcome rumors and misinformation, and tipped public opinion in favor of the polio vaccine. In polio-endemic Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, it is vital to bring more influential religious leaders on board.

Now, with news of a fresh outbreak of polio in Somalia and Kenya, religious influencers have become more essential than ever to the worldwide effort to eradicate polio once and for all.
From an imam who preached against the polio vaccine until his own son was paralyzed; to women volunteers who bridge the gap between mothers and male religious leaders; to Somali religious leaders who’ve pledged to act as frontline advocates in the fight against the recent outbreak; religious influence has many faces.

See more


Related News

   24/01/2022
The support polio teams provide to deliver COVID-19 vaccines underlines the vital role they can play for health priorities beyond polio.
   18/01/2022
Soni Farhan’s work to eradicate polio has been as healing for her as it has been for the children she’s determined to help.
   13/01/2022
Update on polio eradication efforts in Pakistan for December 2021
   21/12/2021
Update on polio eradication efforts in Pakistan for November 2021
   20/12/2021
2021 may go down in history as the turning point in the global effort to eradicate polio.
   16/12/2021
High level commitment to ending polio in Pakistan by regional UN leadership