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By Tunde Segun, Interim Senior Program Officer Family Planning, Nigeria Country Office, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Photo credit: ©Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Andrew Esiebo
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe one of the most important ways countries can support individuals, families, communities, and societies is by investing in women’s health. That’s why family planning has long been a priority for the foundation. Our aspiration is to ensure that women everywhere can access contraceptives and quality care that enable them to make informed decisions about their health and future—including whether, when, and how many children to have.
We believe promoting self-care is critical to achieving this vision. That’s why self-care is an important part of the foundation’s family planning strategy and why we are a proud member of the Self-Care Trailblazers Group.
Based on what we’ve learned about women’s and girls’ preferences, the foundation is investing in a range of innovative contraceptive products that put care directly in their hands and empower them to take charge of their own health on their own time with no or minimal reliance on often overworked health care providers or overcrowded health facilities.
But our commitment to self-care is not just about tools – it’s also about optimizing how care is provided to meet women’s and girls’ evolving needs. We’re testing new approaches to bring people the information and services they need to manage their own health when, where and how they want, such as through digital counseling and direct-to-consumer platforms like online pharmacies. Ultimately, our self-care investments are anchored in the belief that when people can better manage their own health, we can better meet their needs, advance gender equality, and improve global health outcomes.
Self-care is also personal for me. It’s an issue I’ve championed through my early days as a practitioner, and later as an advocate and as the focal point on adolescent reproductive health within Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health.
I’ve seen first-hand through my work in Nigeria how self-care programs that provide the right tools and the right guidance can help women be the agents of their own health. For example, I worked in one of the northern States in Nigeria on a program that empowers women in simple self-care activities, like taking each other’s blood pressure, using a traffic light-enabled blood pressure machine. I also witnessed the impact of improved counselling for pregnant women on birth preparedness and complication readiness during pregnancy, so they can look out for signs of danger for themselves and their babies.
Since then, Nigeria has made other important steps to integrate self-care interventions within its health system, including through new national self-care guidelines for sexual and reproductive and maternal health. As part of the guidelines, Nigeria is increasingly committed to expanding access to DMPA-SC self-injection. At the Gates Foundation, we’re supporting DMPA-SC rollout through investments that cover research, service delivery, demand generation, and systems strengthening.
As more countries embrace self-care, there are a few lessons from Nigeria that are worth sharing:
Together, these efforts have led to an astronomical increase in the number of women in Nigeria relying on self-injectables.
Nigeria’s success illustrates the importance of collaboration in expanding self-care in countries around the world. To help empower people – especially women and girls – to play a larger and more active role in their care and ultimately live healthier lives, we must continue building partnerships, strengthening investments, and deepening advocacy efforts.
With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.
PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.
PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.
Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.
The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.
PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.
PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.
PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.
PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.
PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.