Many women in the extended postpartum period — the year following a birth — want to delay or avoid future pregnancies but are not using a modern contraceptive method. Meeting the family planning needs of these women can help ensure healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies and, in turn, improve maternal and child health.
Reaching mothers through child immunization contacts is a promising strategy to address barriers to postpartum family planning use. Immunizations are one of the most effective and well-utilized strategies to promote child health globally. The recommended vaccination schedule for children allows for multiple health care contacts with infants and their mothers.
Through the PROGRESS project, FHI 360 emerged as a global leader in the area of family planning and immunization integration. The rationale for this type of integration is summarized in this technical brief [PDF, 515 KB]. Selected PROGRESS achievements in evaluating integration strategies, synthesizing evidence and engaging stakeholders on this topic are included below, as are achievements in other areas of postpartum family planning. This technical meeting report [PDF, 1.3 MB] also discusses PROGRESS work in postpartum family planning.
- Through PROGRESS, FHI 360 conducted two randomized studies on integrating family planning and immunization services — one in Ghana and Zambia [PDF, 386 KB] and one in Rwanda, described in this brief [PDF, 1.4 MB] and this report [PDF, 1.3 MB]. In collaboration with CARE India and the Department of Health and Family Welfare, PROGRESS also assessed how family planning and immunization services are integrated in Jharkhand, India [PDF, 473 KB]. To address identified gaps, PROGRESS subsequently led the development of new service delivery guidelines and resources for providers, which the government of Jharkhand has adopted.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and partners have framed family planning and immunization integration as a promising High Impact Practice (HIP). PROGRESS has co-authored a HIP brief on this topic, which will be published in mid-2013. Through a new interagency working group co-founded by FHI 360, PROGRESS has also played a leadership role in developing a new HIP map — shown on the HIP website — to highlight programmatic experiences with integrating family planning and immunization services.
- Technical Leadership Meeting on Postpartum Family Planning: At a July 2012 technical meeting in Washington, DC, PROGRESS presented findings from several research studies related to postpartum family planning. The meeting highlighted a study in Rwanda, described in this research brief [PDF, 731 KB], which demonstrated the national potential of offering postpartum intrauterine device services through district hospitals and health centers. In addition, research from Zambia [PDF, 241 KB] indicated that making free pregnancy tests available in clinics can help increase access to same-day provision of family planning for women who are not menstruating. A full report of the technical meeting is available here [PDF, 1.3 MB].
PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) was a five-year project awarded to FHI 360 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in June 2008. The project sought to improve access to family planning among underserved populations by providing global technical leadership and working in selected countries.