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Faith and Development Leaders Meet at The White House

Mara Vanderslice, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, describes a recent meeting with religious leaders involved in development efforts around the world.

In Mozambique, religious leaders are playing a major role in the fight against malaria.  Rt. Rev. Bishop Sengulane, the Anglican Bishop of Lemobmo, described at a White House event yesterday how 25,000 religious leaders have been trained to prevent malaria, these leaders have reached more than 2 million Mozambicans with vital health information and malaria is on the decline.

Over 80 religious leaders and senior Obama Administration officials gathered at the White House yesterday to hear stories like this about the important role religious communities can play in health and development around the world.

The event was an opportunity for members of the newly formed Global Initiative for Faith, Health and Development to present a report "Many Faiths, Common Action: Increasing the Engagement of the Faith Sector on Health and Development," developed by an 83 member international task force.

The group was met by several senior administration officials, including Director of the Office of Global Health Affairs, Dr. Nils Daulaire, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department, Kathleen Fitzgerald, Gayle Smith, Senior Director for Development and Democracy, National Security Council and USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah.

Administration officials were also able to share the progress that has been made in efforts to engage religious actors through the Inter-Agency Working Group on Religion and Global Affairs, co-chaired by the NSC and our Office.

Government officials pledged to continue the consultation with the religious leaders gathered to expand and equip the U.S. government's engagement of religious communities around the world in service of shared diplomatic and development outcomes.

The event was organized by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mara Vanderslice serves as Deputy Director at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.