Family planning (FP) programs in developing countries have been experiencing a phenomenon that I like to call “the leaking bucket.” Let’s say that you place a bucket under an open tap and watch the water level rise, until you discover a hole in the bottom of the bucket. Water is now leaking out of the bucket. Filling the bucket will be easier once the hole is plugged. In the same way, meeting women’s desire to reduce unwanted fertility will become easier once FP programs pay more attention to contraceptive discontinuation.
Guest post by Holly Blanchard, Senior Reproductive Health/Family Planning Advisor, Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP)
Access to a wide range of safe and effective contraceptive options is every woman’s human right, including those who have just given birth. Access to family planning (FP) not only enables a woman to achieve her and her partner’s desired family size, but also contributes to improved health outcomes for both women and children. However, in many low resource settings, postpartum women are offered a limited range of FP methods, if they are counseled on postpartum FP (PPFP) at all. With increasing numbers of women delivering in health facilities, the opportunity to offer the option of immediate postpartum intrauterine device (PPIUD) services should be maximized.
Guest post by Molly Tumusiime, Program Associate (Community Engagement), EngenderHealth/Uganda
The Right to Health asserts that people are entitled to access reproductive health services, including family planning (FP), that are acceptable to them and of the highest possible quality. However, there are many barriers to individuals’ realizing this right at many levels. While policy change and provider training can support increased FP access and use and better ensure contraceptive choice, interventions at the policy and service delivery levels alone are insufficient. Community-level barriers also impede service utilization and should be addressed in participatory and cooperative ways.
In 2010, EngenderHealth began piloting site walk-throughs (SWTs) in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda. This promising approach—rooted in the core human rights principles of participation, empowerment, and accountability—catalyzes community participation in health and strengthens the accountability of service providers to communities. In addition, SWTs foster linkages and collaborative partnerships between health providers and community members in addressing barriers to informed choice and service access and in improving the quality and acceptability of services.
Guest post by Lauren VanEnk, Program Officer, Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University (IRH)
For decades, India’s national family planning (FP) program has emphasized female sterilization, resulting in limited contraceptive method options for those with an unmet need for FP, especially for spacing pregnancies. However, following the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which recommended high-quality services and a range of methods, the Government of India adopted a national population policy in 2000 that shifted its FP program’s focus from achieving target-driven demographic goals to ensuring reproductive health and rights, including voluntary and informed choice.
Last week, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) held their 14th annual meeting in Delhi, India. The meeting, cohosted by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, convened more than 200 participants from civil society, the private sector, and governments to work collaboratively toward strengthening the core principles of commodity security—method choice, quality, and equity—to increase access to affordable, high-quality family planning (FP). Continue reading