This piece originally ran on the USAID MOMENTUM website. An adapted version highlighting PSI’s MOMENTUM project – MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery (MPHD) is below.
While everyone has the right to make their own decision about whether to use contraceptives, not everyone is able to exercise that right. Today, an estimated 923 million women in low- and middle-income countries want to avoid pregnancy, yet an estimated 218 million of these women are not using a method of modern contraception. Unmet family planning needs are associated with higher risk of maternal deaths and more unintended pregnancies and related complications, all of which have devastating consequences for women and their families.
Family planning is a crucial component of the USAID-funded MOMENTUM’s efforts to improve the overall health and well-being of mothers, children, families, and communities. Integrating family planning into broader maternal and child health care helps ensure that people’s varying health care needs and preferences are met and maximizes their access to information and services at each point of contact with the health system. It is a cost-effective approach that reduces the number of unplanned or undesired pregnancies and improves health outcomes.
On World Contraception Day—a global campaign dedicated to improving awareness about contraception and enabling young people to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health—we’re reminded that many health-related barriers such as high costs, low-quality services, hard-to-reach facilities, limited knowledge of family planning, and social norms that perpetuate stigma stand in the way of people who want to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health.
In recognition of World Contraception Day, MOMENTUM shares how its projects are addressing these barriers.
1. Ensuring family planning is part of comprehensive maternal care
Studies show that most women do not want to get pregnant again within a year of giving birth,7 but many are not aware that family planning options exist for them and are not counseled on how they can plan and space out future pregnancies.
MOMENTUM will train private clinicians and community health workers to counsel pregnant women during prenatal care and home visits, and through community activities. We also plan to help health providers support women who have given birth, along with their partners, to ensure they are informed of the methods they can choose before they leave the facility.
As part of USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative, MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery will provide tailored training and support to 40 Ugandan Private Midwives Association (UPMA) facilities to expand access to high-quality postpartum family planning services. For 18 months, MOMENTUM will support UPMA by identifying and responding to barriers to postpartum family planning services at facilities in Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono districts.
With MOMENTUM support, trainers will mentor and coach UPMA facility providers on topics including family planning methods and referrals for permanent methods, high-quality family planning counseling during postnatal care visits, and youth-friendly services for younger mothers. UPMA will then scale the training to an additional 536 sites across the country. This will include training sessions on ways to integrate postpartum family planning services during outreach events, such as immunization days, and supporting community health workers to mobilize, meet demand, and provide family planning-related follow-up with mothers. Such efforts will help put new and expecting mothers in the health care system so they can better navigate access to services.
2. Ensuring adolescents can access contraception
Each year an estimated 16 million women 15-19 years give birth8 and 2 million girls under 15 become pregnant,9 an age when risks of maternal death and complications in pregnancy and birth are highest.10,11 Adolescent pregnancy is often not the result of a deliberate choice, but rather the absence of choices – the consequences of little to no access to schooling, information, and health care.12
MOMENTUM will work with health providers and facilities to offer youth-friendly services where providers are trained to understand adolescent needs, ensure confidentiality, and be respectful to young people. Given that 60 percent of Africa’s population is under 25 years old,13 meeting the needs of this age group has the potential to positively impact their health and well-being for years to come.
In Benin, MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery recently led family planning sessions with pharmacy managers to communicate the value of including contraceptive options among their pharmacy’s products. Moreover, to ensure family planning activities and interventions are meeting the needs of local youth, MOMENTUM will work with several local youth- and women-focused organizations to build their capacity as local advocates.
“Through MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery, we’re working with and for young people to design solutions that break down societal and legal barriers that stand between young people and their family planning and reproductive health access,” said Ando Tiana Raobelison, Deputy Director, Association Béninoise pour le Marketing Social et la Communication pour la Santé, a lead implementer of MOMENTUM activities in Benin. “Moreover, we’ll be working to involve, build capacity, and improve networks among youth organizations.”
Read more on the MOMENTUM website.