This week, more than 3,700 participants will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, for the fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). What is at stake? The lives and well-being of an estimated 214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries who want to avoid or delay pregnancy but are not using an effective form of modern contraception.
Technology improves early grade reading in Rwanda by connecting teachers, mentors and education partnersAn Interview with
Chantal Uwiragiye, Literacy Specialist, FHI 360
To support ongoing efforts to improve education in Rwanda, the Mentorship Community of Practice project launched in 2013. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by FHI 360, this project developed an online community of practice that promotes peer learning and sharing of resources; provides access to education resources through an e-library; and helps mentors get support from each other, the Rwanda Education Board and other education programs.
As a result of the project’s success, USAID decided to expand access to teachers in the Rwanda Education Board’s school-based mentor initiative and to focus on early grade reading in a new program called the Teachers Community of Practice (TCOP), which will be introduced as part of USAID’s Early Grade Reading project launch in February 2017.
Literacy expert Chantal Uwiragiye talks about the program’s innovations, successes and key learnings.
Advancing a no-missed-opportunities approach through integrating family planning and immunization servicesWritten by
When Lorpu*, a mother in Liberia, brought her baby to a clinic to receive routine immunizations, she was also counseled about family planning and offered a contraceptive method. Lorpu expressed relief about having received same-day provision of both family planning and immunization services: “When I go for [my child’s] vaccine, I can also get family planning. I don’t have to leave and come back.”
Lorpu received these integrated services as part of a pilot program in Liberia implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) predecessor flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) and the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. In participating clinics, women who brought their infants for routine immunization services were provided brief messages about family planning by the vaccinator and offered a referral for same-day services. This approach, now used by MCHIP’s successor program, the flagship Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), has led to substantial increases in family planning uptake, and women have expressed positive feedback about the convenience of having access to both family planning and immunization services during the same visit.
Integrated health care delivery is critical in the year after childbirth, when there are numerous opportunities to reach women and their infants with services — including postnatal care, immunization, growth monitoring and family planning. A no-missed-opportunities approach recognizes that every service contact presents an opportunity to comprehensively address women’s and children’s health needs.
FHI 360’s Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH) project has been nominated for a prestigious 2013 Katerva Award, which recognizes “the most promising ideas and efforts to advance the planet toward sustainability.” This nomination adds to the considerable recognition that this innovative mHealth information service has already received. In June of this year, m4RH was one of ten recipients of the first African Development Bank eHealth Awards. Just a year earlier, Women Deliver 50! selected m4RH as one of the top 10 innovative technology programs supporting women and girls.
The Katerva Award nomination highlights m4RH’s innovative packaging of reproductive health information and behavior change components in a single mobile phone technology. Using mobile phones, m4RH disseminates family planning information to the general public, as well as information on the nearest clinic that offers these services. One of the few text-messaging services globally that provides family planning information as a means of education and behavior change communication, m4RH has revolutionized the concept of informed choice in the provision of family planning information. With m4RH, any person with a mobile phone can access standardized, essential and comprehensive information in simple language. One user said, “m4RH is using terms you can understand, it has clear knowledge on what you want to know. It is simple to understand, simple language that everyone can understand.” Given that more than 85 percent of global citizens have mobile connectivity, the potential impact of this simple service is truly exciting.
Our SUV bounced along the dirt road through the Rwandan mountains, which are noted for roads complicated by switchbacks and steep descents but dotted with stunning sites. On one side of the car, tea farmers pruned the lush green bushes atop raised beds of rich, black soil. We were destined for the Kinihira Health Facility, and our goal was to provide vasectomies. We looked forward to hearing more from our clients, usually husbands and wives who want to provide better lives for their children, about what led them there.
After two decades of experience in East Africa, I could not imagine that we would have many clients. Worldwide, less than 2.4 percent of men of reproductive age have had a vasectomy.1 In Africa, the prevalence of vasectomy is negligible, less than one percent. Studies on vasectomy in Africa have found that men and women have limited knowledge of the method and many misconceptions, including equating vasectomy with castration and attributing the procedure to a reduction in sexual performance or desire, weight gain and laziness.
In reality, vasectomy is safe, effective and the least expensive long-acting or permanent contraceptive method.
Since 2010, FHI 360 has been providing technical assistance to the Rwandan Ministry of Health to scale up the delivery of enhanced vasectomy procedures, such as no-scalpel vasectomies (NSV). NSV has significant advantages, including a very low failure rate (0.15 percent) and a decreased risk of surgical complications like bleeding. To increase demand for vasectomy, Rwanda’s Vasectomy Scale-up Program — one of the first national vasectomy scale-up efforts in sub-Saharan Africa — has strived to provide reliable access along with facts to dispel common myths about the procedure.