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Aggie: Helping Zambian Women Take Control of their Reproductive Health | Published 03.08.13

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Every day, Aggie wakes up at 5:00 in the morning to pray for the women in her community. She worries about the women who have 16 children, women struggling with unintended pregnancies, women who have no access to family planning. Then, she puts on her dancing shoes and does something about it.

Aggie has six children of her own between the ages of 39 and 11 and has been a midwife for 34 years; she knows a thing or two about reproductive health.

She provides family planning counseling and insertion of long-acting reversible contraception, namely intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, to women in the far reaches of rural Zambia. She considers her work a God-given profession not only because she is committed to helping women take control of their reproductive health, but also because she is a gifted communicator.

“I don’t really have a problem in communicating with anybody, be it young, old or middle aged. They find me accommodating, and I also find them accommodating. Because of this relationship, something just comes in me,” she says.

Aggie takes an active interest in the women she serves. She talks extensively about one woman she met. This woman had been pregnant 16 times. “A rural woman gets married at 14. This rural woman, at 42, had been pregnant half of her life. Because her children were dying of malnutrition she kept on producing every year,” Aggie says. “I was really affected; I’ve never seen a sixteenth child from the same woman and man in my life.”

Aggie counseled the woman on her family planning options, and she chose an IUD, which Aggie inserted. Both the woman and her husband came back to thank Aggie and have served as role models for other couples in the community by dispelling myths around IUDs.

While access to family planning can be a matter of life or death, Aggie educates women and men in a positive and engaging manner, through dancing, singing and by talking about the real reason people need family planning: sex.

“I’ve come to discover that in a woman’s life and a man’s life the best thing is sex…so as a part of my sensitization, I always say that what you have to enjoy is your sex,” says Aggie. “I tell them to enjoy sex with the partner God has given you rather than you trying to find satisfaction from someone else. And this has also helped them to maintain their relationships. Even the men have come to appreciate it; they come personally to say thank you.”

Aggie discusses how using long-acting reversible methods of contraception will help relieve a woman’s anxiety about becoming pregnant, thereby freeing her from worry during sex.

“With this long-term family planning method, which is never forgotten, you can go anywhere anytime.
You won’t forget to take your pill; you won’t forget the date of your next injection because you already have the device in you. That brings a lot of comfort to a lot of women.”

In just a year and a half, midwives like Aggie served 17,150 women with IUDs and 34,402 women with implants, which more than tripled the number of women using long-acting reversible methods of contraception in Zambia.


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Country: Zambia, Africa - Southern
Health Areas: Reproductive Health