By Salamatu Abdulai, Senior Technical Advisor, Family Planning, Total Family Health Organization Ghana and Mariela Rodríguez, Sr. Learning and Communications Advisor, MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery, PSI
If the evidence shows that long-acting, reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods are safe and effective options, then why, too often, are LARCs only available at public sector clinics?
Contraceptive choice hinges on consumers’ access to the variety of methods that work best for them, no matter their entry point to care.
That’s why the USAID-funded MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery project is supporting private sector providers in Ghana to expand LARC coverage and build health worker capacity to sustain demand for these methods. We share how we’re doing that, below.
Let’s talk LARC
Long-acting, reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods such as hormonal implants, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) are effective and safe methods for women who do not want to become pregnant. LARCs offer women the choice to delay pregnancy for years at a time and stop the method at any point they choose. However, in countries like Ghana, LARCs are primarily available in public sector facilities. Fewer private sector facilities in Ghana offer LARC methods, in large part because only a limited number of private providers are trained in these methods.
Prior to partnering with MOMENTUM, Ghanaian private providers like Patience Asabi Boakye, a nurse midwife for 15 years, was not trained on LARC provision and needed to refer clients to a public facility close by. Patience knows how important it is for clients to have informed contraceptive choice.
“Women and their partners gain increased control over their reproductive health [and it supports] women who do not desire to get pregnant any time soon,” said Patience.
Patience is among the 157 private health providers in Ghana who joined MOMENTUM-supported LARC trainings to date. MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery, led in Ghana by Total Family Health Organization in collaboration with Jhpiego Ghana, set out to train providers across 100 private health facilities throughout the country. The trainings were delivered through a blended learning approach, combining online curricula with in-person skills training, aiming to build provider competency around method provision and counseling.
The private providers trained by MOMENTUM are now able to offer high quality LARC services, broadening the contraceptive choices women can access from private facilities.
“Before my engagement with [the project] I had no idea what the insertion and removal of an IUD looked like,” confided Aruk Theresa Akudpoaka, a midwife from Garu Presbyterian Health Center. “… I think the training has really given me confidence and empowered me to be able to render these services to my clients.”
The training also focused on newly added content on Counseling for Choice (C4C), an evidence-based approach to contraceptive counseling that supports clients to decide which method is right for them. Aruk Theresa feels that the C4C components of the training were particularly beneficial. “Prior to [C4C], I really did not know I was overloading my clients with information. This time…when clients come, we give them the exact information they need, then we render the services, and they leave here satisfied.”
The power of choice
When it comes to contraception, there is no one-size-fits-all. Everyone is different, and so are their reproductive health needs.
Informed choice is key to ensuring contraceptive users have the necessary tools and information needed to make decisions about their reproductive healthcare. When women and couples have access to a full range of effective and high-quality modern contraceptive methods and use the ones that best meet their needs, they can more easily plan for the families and futures they desire.
And while LARCs are not the only modern methods of contraception, they are a valuable option for women who want to limit or space their pregnancies. Increasing provider capacity to offer LARC services increases the contraceptive choices available to women.
“It is important for clients to have choices when it comes to the use of contraceptives because each client has a particular goal when it comes to reproductive health,” said Aruk Theresa.
MOMENTUM Private Healthcare Delivery is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the MOMENTUM suite of awards and implemented by Population Services International (PSI) with partners Jhpiego, FHI 360, Avenir Health, and ThinkWell.