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Guide to Healthy Living: Mosques

Public Health England together with Birmingham City Council and KIKIT Pathways to Recovery have produced this guide to show what is possible when mosques harness their commitment, faith and resources to improve the health and wellbeing not only of their congregation but of the local community as a whole.

The report highlights evidence on preventing ill health across the life-course in order to live longer healthier lives and gives examples of health and wellbeing activities already taking place within mosques in Birmingham.

Many of the health conditions affecting people in the UK are preventable, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, strokes and cancers which can be prevented if underlying risk factors are addressed. Communities can take action to encourage people to take control of their lives by stopping smoking, being a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet. These actions can reduce the likelihood of developing a chronic health condition.

Risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity and smoking are greater in lower socio-economic groups, leading to higher levels of illness and death. Muslims in the UK have some of the worst health outcomes compared to other groups especially in the over 50 age groups and Muslim participation in some of the national screening programmes is low. The mosque community and Imams have a shared responsibility in disseminating health messages to their networks and congregations and in promoting healthier lifestyles.

Mosques and Imams hold important leadership and pastoral roles in the community. They are often trusted, well-respected figures who have great potential to influence health promotion and engagement within the community. They can help lead the way to reduce health inequalities in communities; firstly as a place where health promotion activities and initiatives can take place and secondly where health promotion messages can be amplified by inclusion of Qur’anic and Prophetic guidance, making the message more likely to resonate within the community.

The resource also includes a self-assessment checklist for mosques to recognise their current level of health and wellbeing promotion with opportunities to develop further. By using this guide, mosques can help the congregation and community to live healthier lives, prevent illness or, when it does occur, promote early diagnosis to prevent conditions from getting worse.