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PROGRESS Newsletter #6

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PROGRESS Work Featured in London Family Planning Summit

  Poster with illustrations and text listing contraindications for oral contraceptive use.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete speaking at the London Summit.

The Costed Implementation Program in Tanzania was one of several key PROGRESS-supported tools and practices that were noted at the London Summit on Family Planning as next steps to increase contraceptive access among women in the developing world. "What is required of us is to ensure that the National Family Planning Costed Implementation Program is implemented fully," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete told participants of the summit. Hosted on July 11, 2012, by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the summit raised $4.6 billion dollars in pledges to give 120 million more women access to contraceptives by 2020. Representatives from governments, the private sector and donors were among those in attendance. Read more here about the commitments made by presidents and other global leaders and how work under PROGRESS has helped lead to the activities they are supporting.

Postpartum Family Planning: New Research Findings and Programmatic Action

On July 19, 2012, at a meeting in Washington, DC, the PROGRESS project presented findings from its research studies on topics related to postpartum family planning. The meeting offered an opportunity for partner agencies, including USAID and the World Health Organization, to discuss how these findings might contribute to expanding access to family planning information and services in the postpartum period. Dr. Scott Radloff, Director of the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health, opened the meeting. “We see postpartum family planning as one of our most important program areas,” he said. “On the continuum of care, postpartum family planning may be the biggest missed opportunity in front of us.” A meeting report is available here (PDF, 1.3 MB) and the agenda with slides presented is available here.

Closing panel (L to R): Jeff Spieler, USAID; Shawn Malarcher, USAID (moderator); John Stanback, FHI 360/PROGRESS; and Mary Lyn Gaffied, WHO.

Panel at the postpartum meeting (L to R): Jeff Spieler, USAID; Shawn Malarcher, USAID (moderator); John Stanback, FHI 360/PROGRESS; and Mary Lyn Gaffied, WHO.

PROGRESS Supports Male Engagement in Family Planning

Men’s involvement in family planning can improve gender equality and increase contraceptive uptake, but most family planning programs target only women. In a new PROGRESS-supported brief, the authors synthesize the literature on barriers to male engagement in South Asia and provide evidence-based guidance on how family planning programs can address these barriers. The brief is one of several projects that PROGRESS is supporting to foster conversations about men and family planning, identify new ways to engage men in family planning, and promote acceptance and use of vasectomy services. To read the new brief, go here (PDF, 513 KB).

Green Belt Movement Opens Up Conversations about Family Planning

Poster with illustrations and text listing contraindications for oral contraceptive use.  

One of several posters developed by the Green Belt Movement and PROGRESS.

As an unexpected benefit of the Green Belt Movement’s population, health and environment (PHE) project in Kenya, villagers are opening up about the once taboo topic of family planning. PROGRESS conducted a training of trainer’s workshop last year so that staff of the PHE project would be able to teach project volunteers how to integrate family planning discussions into their routine environmental activities. At a project review meeting in July 2012, one of the 43 project volunteers at the meeting reported that a local chief had helped dispel a myth that family planning (and thus fewer children) was responsible for local school closings. A second volunteer reported that a male villager had contacted the volunteer for a private demonstration on condom use. One more volunteer reported that another man had opened up to his community for the first time about having a vasectomy.

PROGRESS logo letter Number 6 • August 2012

Updates on PROGRESS Activities

Nigeria Changes Policy to Expand Community Access to Injectable Contraception

On July 20, 2012, Nigeria’s National Council on Health — the highest policy-making body in the country’s health sector — approved a recommendation from the national Ministry of Health to allow community health extension workers (CHEWs) to provide injectable contraceptives. The new recommendation also encourages state Ministries of Health in Nigeria to scale up the practice. This action followed work supported by PROGRESS, including global evidence on the benefits of community-based access to injectable contraceptives, the creation of a country-specific advocacy brief, and revitalization of a technical working group on community-based access that played a key role in advancing dialogue about the policy change. CHEWs were previously permitted only to provide condoms and to resupply oral contraceptives.

Development of Global Recommendations on Task Shifting

On June 26, 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a family planning technical consultation in Geneva to make recommendations for task shifting in family planning. Dr. Maggwa Ndugga and Dr. John Stanback from PROGRESS were among those in attendance. The recommendations will be part of a larger WHO guidance document called Optimizing Health Workers' Roles to Improve Maternal and Newborn Health. The task-shifting guidance on family planning is one of about 15 areas in the draft document, which is still under final review by WHO. Representatives at the family planning technical consultation were from USAID, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), FHI 360, Population Council, IntraHealth, Jhpiego, the Evidence to Practice Project, and others.

Accredited Social Health Activists Deliver Contraceptives to Households in India

In a pilot initiative by the government of India, locally recruited accredited social health activists (ASHAs) have been delivering contraceptives directly to households in their communities. A PROGRESS-supported evaluation in six of the 17 pilot states suggests that the scheme is acceptable to both ASHAs, who receive nominal payment for delivering the contraceptives, and their clients. About 86 percent of 92 ASHAs thought the scheme would have long-term success, and about 75 percent of 458 female clients said they were completely satisfied with the new scheme. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who requested the evaluation, is planning to expand the new scheme to more states, but only after addressing operational issues and reviewing the recommendations provided by the evaluators.

PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) is a five-year project awarded to FHI 360 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in June 2008. The project seeks to improve access to family planning among underserved populations by providing global technical leadership and working in selected countries. PROGRESS currently works in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in India.

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