A door-to-door campaign for antenatal care

This story originally appeared on the Management Sciences for Health website.

When her rapist was arrested, 16-year old Brigitte* thought the worst was behind her. But when she discovered she was pregnant, she had little choice but to drop out of school and work the family fields in her village, in the Manika health zone of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She certainly could not afford antenatal care (ANC) visits.

The DRC government has made maternal health one of its highest priorities, and partners like the USAID-funded Integrated Health Project Plus (IHPplus) have collaborated with the Ministry of Health to make that vision a reality. Knowing that ANC visits are out-of-reach for many women, IHPplus subsidizes free and reduced-cost care for expectant mothers. And knowing that many women are not aware of the benefits of ANC visits, IHPplus has organized a variety of campaigns to educate mothers-to-be. Continue reading “A door-to-door campaign for antenatal care”

Top tips for advocates working on emergency contraception

By Melissa Garcia and Cristina Puig Borrás

Melissa Garcia is Technical Adviser for the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC), hosted by MSH. Cristina Puig Borrás is the Coordinator for the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception. This article orginally appeared on ICEC’s website

Photo: Susana Galdos/MSH

With the current largest generation of young people, there is much to celebrate on August 12, International Youth Day. In particular, there is the growing recognition that as agents of change, adolescents and young people and their organisations are essential stakeholders who contribute to inclusive, just, sustainable and peaceful societies. Crucially, advocates working on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive rights (RR) advance access for young people in meaningful ways. Continue reading “Top tips for advocates working on emergency contraception”

Pour la première fois, les communes de la région Sahel au Burkina Faso, adoptent et ajoutent la planification familiale à leurs budgets

Par Nongma Sawadogo

Nongma Sawadogo dirige le travail sur la santé des femmes et des enfants pour le programme FCI de Management Sciences for Health (MSH) au Burkina Faso. Cet article est apparu sur le blog K4Health.

Un kiosque de planification familiale au salon de la santé au Burkina Faso. © 2011 Centre pour les programmes de communication, avec la permission de Photoshare

Quand j’étais en formation pour devenir sage-femme, une hôtesse de l’air,  sans argent et dans un  état critique, se présentait  à la maternité de l’hôpital  Yalgado Ouédraogo de Ouagadougou, après avoir eu recours à un avortement raté.  Mes collègues et moi avons cotisé de l’argent afin de lui procurer  ses médicaments essentiels, mais malheureusement elle a succombé à ses saignements (hémorragie)- malgré le fait que nous lui avons administré ses médicaments.

Nous étions choqués. Et je pensais que  nous devons absolument faire quelque chose pour améliorer la santé reproductive des femmes. Quand je pense que cette femme aurait pu être sauvée si seulement elle avait eu accès à la planification familiale. Cela m’a rappelé la raison pour laquelle  je voulais devenir sage-femme (maïeuticien)  – pour sauver des êtres humains.

Cependant,  la planification familiale ne commence pas avec les sages-femmes ou les médecins. En effet, elle commence avec les décideurs politiques et un budget adéquat alloué à cette fin. La planification familiale débute par une forte  volonté politique et de l’argent. Les dirigeants peuvent s’inspirer pour améliorer  l’accès aux services de contraception et de santé reproductive, mais ils doivent aussi  impérativement prouver cet engagement en les incluant parmi les éléments principaux de leurs budgets locaux et  explicitement sur le plan auquel le gouvernement  local envisage l’usage des fonds publics. Continue reading “Pour la première fois, les communes de la région Sahel au Burkina Faso, adoptent et ajoutent la planification familiale à leurs budgets”

For the first time, communes in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region add family planning to their budgets

By Nongma Sawadogo

Version française

Nongma Sawadogo leads work on women’s and children’s health for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in Burkina Faso. This article originally appeared on the K4Health Blog.  

A family planning booth at a health fair in Burkina Faso. Photo: Center for Communication Programs, Courtesy of Photoshare

When I was in training to become a midwife, a flight attendant, with no money and in critical condition, arrived at the maternity ward of Yalgado Ouédraogo hospital in Ouagadougou after getting a botched abortion. My colleagues and I put money together to buy her essential medicines, but she eventually died–even after we administered the medicines. We were shocked. And I thought, we must do something to improve women’s reproductive health. When I think that this woman could have been saved if she’d had access to family planning earlier, I’m reminded of my reason for becoming a midwife–to save human beings.

But family planning doesn’t start with midwives or doctors. It starts with political will and with money. If political leaders want to  improve women’s access to contraception and reproductive health services in their communities, they can act on this commitment by making a line item for these services in their local budgets, the local government’s plan for how it will spend public money. Continue reading “For the first time, communes in Burkina Faso’s Sahel region add family planning to their budgets”

An ounce of (after-sex) prevention: At the Family Planning Summit, let’s talk about emergency contraception

By Elizabeth Westley

Elizabeth Westley is the director of the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, where this article first appeared. 

To meet the global Family Planning 2020 goals, a full range of family planning methods must be available, including user-controlled, short-acting methods. The Guttmacher Institute’s analysis , Adding it Up, estimates that 214 million women of reproductive age in developing regions want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method.  Half of unmarried women with an unmet need for family planning report infrequent sex as the reason that they do not use a family planning method. A quarter of married women not using contraception fall into the same category.  Not feeling themselves at high levels of risk, these women may wish to avoid the appointments and waiting times, dependence on providers, side effects, discomforts, and other commitments that long-acting contraceptive methods sometimes entail. Other women may not be using modern contraception because they are unaware of their options or are faced with inaccessibility due to distance barriers, poor health infrastructures, stock outs, or high prices. As well, many women are located in humanitarian and fragile settings where contraceptive access can be challenging.  For many women and girls not currently using a long-acting contraceptive method, a simple, discreet, user-controlled, low-commitment, one-time “on demand” form of contraception that can be accessed easily and quickly is a critically important option. This method already exists: emergency contraception. Continue reading “An ounce of (after-sex) prevention: At the Family Planning Summit, let’s talk about emergency contraception”

Building Health Systems that Work for Mothers, Newborns and Midwives

By Catharine Taylor

Catharine Taylor, a former practicing midwife, is the Vice President of the Health Programs Group at Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This post originally appeared on MSH’s Global Health Impact Blog

A midwife leads a pregnancy club in eastern Uganda. (Photo: Kate Ramsey/MSH)

For many people living in poor and underserved regions – whether rural communities or growing cities – midwives are the health system. Continue reading “Building Health Systems that Work for Mothers, Newborns and Midwives”

Person-centered group antenatal care in Eastern Uganda: Reaching women through pregnancy clubs

By Shafia Rashid and Kate Ramsey

Shafia Rashid is a Principal Technical Advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH). Kate Ramsey is Senior Principal Technical Advisor for maternal and newborn health at MSH.

Women examine cards depicting health information during a pregnancy club session in eastern Uganda. (Photo: Kate Ramsey/MSH)

Improving the quality of care that women experience during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period has become a major global priority. Achieving good quality care requires not only clinical improvements, but also a person-centered approach that takes into account women’s and health workers’ needs and perspectives.

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its antenatal care guidelines, calling for a positive pregnancy experience through holistic, person-centered antenatal services that provide pregnant women with emotional support and advice in addition to the standard clinical assessments.

Group antenatal care, initially developed in the U.S. several decades ago, is a promising model that responds to women’s health and information concerns during pregnancy. Facilitated by a health provider, usually a nurse or midwife, group antenatal care offers a forum for pregnant women to learn more about their pregnancies, share their experiences, receive essential health and self-care information, and provide  social and emotional support to each other within the group. Health care providers meet individually with group participants after the group sessions  for routine physical and clinical care and to discuss any confidential issues. Group antenatal care can also benefit health care providers through increased job satisfaction without substantially increasing the amount of time required. Continue reading “Person-centered group antenatal care in Eastern Uganda: Reaching women through pregnancy clubs”

From fronteras to frontlines, Mexican midwives saving lives

Ariadna Capasso is senior technical advisor for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This post originally appeared on the MSH Health Impact Blog

Over the past year, Tijuana, Mexico, has seen an influx of U.S.-bound Haitian migrants fleeing communities left in disrepair from the 2010 earthquake and further devastated by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. These migrants often begin their journey in Latin America and trek through multiple countries and hostile terrain only to find they cannot enter the U.S. once at the border. Among the stalled Haitian migrants living in makeshift shelters as they contemplate their next steps, pregnant women face another uncertainty: whether they or their baby will languish during pregnancy and childbirth without access to skilled maternal and newborn health care.  Recognizing this health crisis, a group of midwives, Parteras Fronterizas (Borderland Midwives in English), arrived on the scene to provide antenatal and safe childbirth care, with help from women who translated from Spanish or English to Haitian Creole.

Parteras Fronterizas embodies the reason we celebrate the International Day of the Midwife–to honor the many midwives around the world who work on the frontlines to deliver high-quality, respectful care to women and newborns during pregnancy and childbirth. At the Third Regional Forum of the Mexican Midwifery Association in late April 2017, traditional and professional midwives, medical doctors, health managers, doulas and midwifery students gathered together to share midwifery practices and strategies for advancing the midwifery profession in Mexico.

Indigenous midwives’ centre, Chiapas, Mexico
Photo credit: Simon Chambers/PWRDF

Continue reading “From fronteras to frontlines, Mexican midwives saving lives”

Perspectives on Monitoring Progress Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: Highlights from CUGH 2017

By: Meg O’Connor, Project Manager, Maternal Health Task Force, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.

Photo: MHTF

Earlier this month, global health experts (and students aspiring to be experts) from around the world gathered for a series of presentations, panels and posters at the 2017 Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference in Washington, D.C. The panel titled “Perspectives on Monitoring Progress Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: What Measures Matter?” provided an opportunity to discuss the monitoring framework developed to accompany the Strategies toward ending preventable maternal mortality (EPMM) report released in 2015. The panel was moderated by Mary Ellen Stanton, Senior Maternal Health Advisor at USAID, and included Rima Jolivet, Maternal Health Technical Director of the Maternal Health Task Force, Elahi Chowdhury of icddr,b (Bangaldesh) and Chibugo Okoli of the Maternal Child Survival Program (MCSP, Nigeria). Representing maternal health monitoring at the global, national and facility-levels respectively, the panelists provided insights from their unique perspectives and highlighted the importance of the EPMM monitoring framework. Continue reading “Perspectives on Monitoring Progress Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality: Highlights from CUGH 2017”

Healthy Women, Healthy Nations

By Fatimata Kané

Fatimata Kané is Project Director of the FCI Program of MSH in Mali. This article originally appeared on the MSH Health Impact Blog. Read this article in French

Photo: Catherine Lalonde

Putting a child on the earth is a whole different type of work. Not everyone can guide a woman and her baby safely through pregnancy and childbirth.

I know what it means to keep women and babies alive and healthy because I am a midwife. Continue reading “Healthy Women, Healthy Nations”