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 Table of Contents  
COMMENTARY
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 130-131

Roping-In religious leaders and faith experts in the effective containment of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission10-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance14-May-2020
Date of Web Publication27-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu - 603 108
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/SHB.SHB_16_20

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Roping-In religious leaders and faith experts in the effective containment of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic. Soc Health Behav 2020;3:130-1

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Roping-In religious leaders and faith experts in the effective containment of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic. Soc Health Behav [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 8];3:130-1. Available from: http://www.shbonweb.com/text.asp?2020/3/3/130/290972



The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) outbreak, which has already attained the pandemic status, has been reported in 212 nations and territories since its emergence. The global estimates are quite alarming with 1,436,198 cases and 85,522 deaths being attributed to the infection, which amounts to an overall case fatality rate of 5.9%.[1] Even though all continents and regions of the world have been facing the brunt of the disease, the most affected are the European and the American regions, which together have accounted for 84.5% of the global caseload.[1] However, the situation remains quite delicate, even in other parts of the world, and there is a definite possibility of rapid upsurge of cases in all parts of the world.

As it has been identified that the infection spreads by close contact or droplets, it is important to note that the outbreaks of the disease have been reported among religious sections because of the adherence to some specific religious customs and traditions.[2] It is important to understand that people get infected in those places where they usually go to gain mental peace amidst these challenging times. The need of the hour is to completely stop the transmission of this novel viral infection in the community, including the one originating from religious settings, but simultaneously giving people opportunities to worship and continue with their faiths and beliefs.[2]

However, to accomplish that and save the lives of humans, we have to involve religious leaders and faith experts in the ongoing preparedness and outbreak–response related activities.[2],[3] These stakeholders usually have a strong connection with the community which they serve, and their involvement can turn out to be a masterstroke in extending support to the healthcare delivery system, envisage the human rights of people, extend help and relief to the society, and even act as a trustworthy source of information and thus aid in clarification of myths, beliefs, or stress.[2] Further, they can help the health sector to reach the most vulnerable sections of society and thus not only protect these sections but also protect the community at large and neutralize the possibility of stigmatization. Moreover, they play an important role in the safe conduction of ceremony or rituals or burial practices in a respectful and appropriate manner.[2]

The World Health Organization has released a set of recommendations for these religious and faith experts amid this ongoing public health emergency so that with the help of them, we can avoid mass gatherings and instead promote virtual or telephonic conductions of these events, strengthen mental and spiritual dimensions of the health, advice about the precautions to be taken during travel, and eliminate any incidents of violence or hate among people against each other.[2],[4],[5] In case the gatherings do happen, it should be conducted after a thorough risk assessment based on the standards set by the national authorities and the time period should be kept of minimal duration.[2],[4] These stakeholders can ensure that during these gatherings, a distance of 1 m is maintained between people, the practice of touching each other or kissing objects is discouraged, personal hygiene is maintained, frequent handwashing is encouraged, and the place of worship is kept clean.[4]

In conclusion, the role of religious leaders and faith experts in tackling the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic is very significant as they can maintain the bonding between the religious communities and thus aid in the process of interruption of the chain of transmission and thereby reduce the overall caseload of the disease.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 80; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation- reports/20200409-sitrep-80-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn= 1b685d64_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 10].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Practical Considerations and Recommendations for Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Communities in the Context of COVID-19-Interim Guidance. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. p. 1-20.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
McCloskey B, Zumla A, Ippolito G, Blumberg L, Arbon P, Cicero A, et al. Mass gathering events and reducing further global spread of COVID-19: A political and public health dilemma. Lancet 2020;395:1096-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Minimizing the risk of international spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak by targeting travelers. J Acute Dis 2020;9:47-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
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