Islam with the internet could do much to prevent disease

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7314.694/b (Published 22 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:694
  1. Abdullatif Husseini, coordinator,
  2. Ronald E LaPorte, director
  1. Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, PO Box 14, Birzeit, Palestine islamicprevention{at}hotmail.com
  2. Disease Monitoring and Telecommunications, WHO Collaborating Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

    EDITOR—Modern public health has paid little attention to prevention tailored towards Muslims even though the Islamic population now numbers over 1 billion. Religion is a major component of the social life of many communities throughout the world, but in disease prevention we often use the concept of “one size fits all,” with little recognition of religion or culture. Religion's positive influences can be incorporated into a strategy for health promotion and disease prevention by using recent developments in information technology.1

    Our goal is to provide access to scientifically sound and culturally acceptable information on health promotion and disease prevention to all who need it, using the information superhighway. This resource will have a major role in the accumulation and dissemination of information to those who need it the most.2

    Islam as a religion puts a considerable emphasis on health, and a wealth of scientifically sound information on different health issues is provided.3 We have started to develop a network of professionals interested in Islam, the internet, and disease prevention from all parts of the world. This network is open to anyone interested in exploring the wealth of information that religious sources have on mental, physical, and social health and can be accessed from the homepage of the Islamic Global Health Network (http://islamicprevention.homestead.com/).

    To improve global health we need to harness the new technology of the internet, as the largest factor in prevention is information sharing. Less than 5% of the world is connected to the internet, but Islam—like most religions—is good at reaching the poor, who have the highest disease burden. The internet alone cannot reach across the health and digital gap but when connected with Islam and other religions it could have a powerful effect in disseminating the most potent prevention systems worldwide.

    An internet based Islamic supercourse (www.pitt.edu/~super1/ighn.htm) includes a variety of lectures on Islam and health and other topics. Since this is an exploration into the impact of religion on our holistic concept of health, research into this area will be important for all religions. We invite professionals of all faiths to join this global community.



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