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Controversies in faith and health care

CITATION: Tomkins A et al. Controversies in faith and health care. Lancet, Volume 386, No. 10005, p1776­1785, 31 October 2015 DOI:
Abstract / Summary: 
SUMMARY: Differences in religious faith-based viewpoints (controversies) on the sanctity of human life, acceptable behaviour, health-care technologies and health-care services contribute to the widespread variations in health care worldwide. Faith-linked controversies include family planning, child protection (especially child marriage, female genital mutilation, and immunisation), stigma and harm reduction, violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and HIV, gender, end-of-life issues, and faith activities including prayer. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and traditional beliefs have similarities and differences in their viewpoints. Improved understanding by health-care providers of the heterogeneity of viewpoints, both within and between faiths, and their effect on health care is important for clinical medicine, public-health programmes, and health-care policy. Increased appreciation in faith leaders of the effect of their teachings on health care is also crucial. This Series paper outlines some faith-related controversies, describes how they influence health-care provision and uptake, and identifies opportunities for research and increased interaction between faith leaders and health-care providers to improve health care.    
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SELECTED EXTRACTS (selected by Neil PW)

'Many international agencies and some national health programmes reject any faith dimension and omit any spiritual dimension to health care. Greater analysis is needed about the ways that pressure groups, with secular agendas, campaign to keep faith out of health in the same way as faith groups are identified, and often vilified, when promoting faith-based agendas for health care and health-care policy. Such policy conflicts are rarely reported in peer-reviewed scientific literature. At the very least, health-care policy makers could look above their secular silos at what has been achieved by engagement with faith-inspired health-care groups; they too might be astonished at the results.'

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Prof Andrew Tomkins, Jean Duff, Atallah Fitzgibbon, Azza Karam, Prof Edward J Mills, Keith Munnings, Sally Smith, Prof Shreelata Rao Seshadri, Prof Avraham Steinberg, Robert Vitillo, Philemon Yugi. 

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