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Myth: family planning and religion don't mix

21 Jan 2014 | Family planning.

Religion is commonly cited as one of the main reasons for low contraceptive use in Senegal. But when we set up an outreach facility at the Touba pilgrimage site, the country’s largest gathering for Mouridism Muslims, we challenged this family planning misconception.

Each year, the annual pilgramage to the holy city of Touba attracts between 1 and 2 million visitors from across Senegal and beyond.With such large numbers of people attending, our outreach team identified it as an excellent opportunity to talk to people about the benefits of family planning. So, we decided to join the pilgrims and set up a sexual and reproductive health facility at the site.

We worked closely with religious families in the area to make sure that we would be welcome at the site and the response we had from pilgrims was unanticipated. Over 200 women opted to take up a method of contraception and another 200 women accessed other STI services including STI testing and cervical cancer screening.

So proof that at the most religious site of the country, during the most religious moment of the Mouridism Muslims year, presumptions can be challenged.

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