Advocacy success story: Kenya approves misoprostol for PPH

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is advocacy project officer for FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health in Kenya. 

This blog post provides an update to an earlier post.

The Kenya Constitution states that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive health. To realize this right, every person must have access to high-quality, life-saving medicines.

Photo credit: Mark Tuschman
Photo credit: Mark Tuschman

Recently, the government achieved great strides toward making this right to health a reality for its citizens. For the first time, the Kenya Essential Medicines List 2016 (KEML) included misoprostol in the oxytocics section, indicating its use for the prevention and treatment of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), excessive bleeding after childbirth and a leading cause of maternal death. Misoprostol is stable at room temperature, available in pill form, and inexpensive. Because of these advantages and the drug’s wide availability, misoprostol may be a woman’s only chance for surviving PPH in settings with limited infrastructure and a shortage of skilled birth attendants–like many parts of Kenya. Continue reading “Advocacy success story: Kenya approves misoprostol for PPH”

Learning to learn: An important part of knowledge management

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy and Communications Project Officer for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health in Kenya. This article originally appeared on the K4Health blog.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending the knowledge management (KM) share fair in Arusha, Tanzania. After much reflection and many attempts at integrating some of the KM models that I learnt from the share fair in my work, I realized something very important: We have to be willing to learn how to learn to get the best out of what KM has to offer. What does this mean? Consider the following… Continue reading “Learning to learn: An important part of knowledge management”

Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about

By Elizabeth Westley and Monica Kerrigan

Elizabeth Westley leads the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. Monica Kerrigan is a global leader in family planning and previously served at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as a senior adviser to Family Planning 2020.

This article originally appeared on Devex.

Unintended pregnancies take a harrowing toll on women, young people, families and nations. When women are unable to decide whether and when to have children, maternal and newborn deaths rise, educational and economic opportunities are lost, families, communities and countries suffer greatly.

Global data highlights the tremendous challenge we face: 213 million pregnancies occur annually and an astonishing 40 percent — about 85 million — of these are unintended. In the United States alone, there are approximately 3 million unintended pregnancies each year, and in India, a staggering 18 million. A woman’s ability to make informed decisions about her reproductive health is one of the most basic human rights. It is a decision that can determine what kind of future she will have — and whether she will have one at all.

Emergency contraception is a unique tool for women to space and time their pregnancies. It is grossly underutilized, underfunded, and not fully optimized globally. It is the only contraceptive method that can be taken after unprotected sex and is effective for several days to prevent pregnancy. It is especially needed by women who have been sexually assaulted, who are often desperate to avoid becoming pregnant by their rapist. Continue reading “Emergency contraception: The reproductive health innovation everyone should know about”

Melissa Wanda nominated for her achievements in reproductive health

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy Project Officer for the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, was nominated for the 120 Under 40 Project by family planning colleagues for her substantial contributions to improving access to family planning in Kenya. The 120 Under 40 Project will select 40 reproductive health champions in 2016, 2017, and 2019 to build a roster of 120 exceptional young leaders by 2020, when the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to reach 120 million additional women and girls with access to life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies. Read Melissa’s profile first appeared on 120 Under 40.

Meeting the needs of urban youth: What does the community say?

By Carol Gatura

Carol Gatura is Communications Officer at African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC). This article originally appeared on the APHRC blog, and is an update to the post Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty.

Youth living in urban informal settlements face numerous challenges when it comes to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. Comprehensive sexuality education is hardly taught in schools, and parents are not quite sure how to talk about sex with their children.

As part of our work on the USAID-funded African Strategies for Health project – a multi-year initiative in collaboration with Management Sciences for Health that examined barriers to access to reproductive health services in urban and peri-urban contexts across the continent – the African Population and Health Research Center produced a short film based in the Nairobi, Kenya slums of Viwandani and Korogocho.

Senior Chief Omache Nyabuto welcomes participants in Korogocho
Senior Chief Omache Nyabuto welcomes participants in Korogocho.

Continue reading “Meeting the needs of urban youth: What does the community say?”

Health workers: The unattended resource

Melissa Wanda Kirowo is Advocacy Project Officer with the FCI Program of Management Sciences for Health, based in Nairobi, Kenya. Melissa was nominated for the 120 Under 40 Project by family planning colleagues for her substantial contributions to reproductive health at the national level or local level. Learn more about Melissa’s work and vote here until July 10!

Clementina Ilukol, a Ugandan midwife, and I discuss challenges health workers face everyday.

At Women Deliver 2016 last month, I had the opportunity to talk with one of a number of young midwives attending the conference. Clementina IIukol, a 22 year-old Ugandan midwife, represents the commitment of health care providers as they work, often under very difficult conditions, to provide essential services to women, newborns, children, and adolescents in the communities they serve. “I walk for miles before daybreak,” Clementina told me, “to fetch water for use at the clinic where I work.”

A week after Women Deliver, global health security was the top subject of discussion at the World Health Assembly, as member states recognize that sustainable development will be unattainable if resilient health systems cannot withstand epidemics like the Ebola, MERS, and Zika viruses. Ultimately, global health security requires individual health security; we must not only support rapid detection and response to cross-border infectious disease threats, but we must also guarantee that every individual has access to safe and effective health care. And what this requires, in turn, is an adequate, equitably distributed, skilled, and well-equipped health workforce. Healthcare workers, like Clementina, turn aspirations into actions. They constantly ‘innovate,’ building bridges to work failing health systems so that everyone facing a health emergency can get the treatment they need. Continue reading “Health workers: The unattended resource”

Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty

Shiko, 23, raises her five-year-old son in a slum outside Nairobi, Kenya. When she went to her first antenatal visit after noticing changes in her body, the nurse denied her services because she thought Shiko was too young to have a baby. Now, Shiko is a mentor of girls in her community. She wants to make sure they have access to sexual and reproductive health information and youth-friendly services, so they can make healthy choices that are right for them.

Hannah, a health worker, provides non-judgmental sexual and reproductive health services to the young people who come to her clinic. Many of the youth she sees are pregnant, have sexually transmitted infections or want contraception.

How can we meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living in urban poverty?

Experts highlight opportunities to improve the health of youth living in impoverished conditions and call for stronger, integrated health services to meet the needs of young people in an increasingly urban Africa.

Featuring FCI Program’s Melissa Wanda (Kenya), the video was funded by USAID and produced by African Strategies for Health (ASH) partners, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

Discovering advocacy successes through participatory evaluation

By Catherine Lalonde and Kathleen Schaffer

Catherine Lalonde is the senior program officer for the Francophone Africa program, and Kathleen Schaffer is the senior program officer for the Anglophone Africa program.

This post is the second in a blog series on the evaluation of FCI’s multi-year advocacy project, Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society. Find the first post here.

Evaluating advocacy is far from simple. Advocacy is not straightforward, as advocates often need to readjust strategies to influence decision-makers when government leaders and policies change. So it’s often difficult to attribute a policy success to a specific advocacy effort. We are grappling with these challenges firsthand as we evaluate our advocacy project Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society (MACS).

Continue reading “Discovering advocacy successes through participatory evaluation”

Reflections on evaluating advocacy

Catherine Lalonde is the senior program officer for the Francophone Africa program.

Saving the lives of women and children around the world is a team effort. It takes the voices of community and religious leaders, health professionals, concerned citizens, young people, and impassioned activists to effect change. Prioritizing women’s and children’s health requires sustained advocacy.

Yet, determining whether certain advocacy efforts are actually achieving desired results—evaluating an advocacy program—is challenging. Through the evaluation of our Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society (MACS) project, which brings together civil society organizations and equips them with skills to be effective advocates, we are reflecting on what it means to evaluate advocacy.

Continue reading “Reflections on evaluating advocacy”

Calling for an integrated approach to maternal and newborn health: Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality

Amy Boldosser-Boesch is Interim President and CEO of Family Care International. This post originally appeared on the Maternal Health Task Force blog.

Next week at the 68th World Health Assembly, the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM)Working Group — led by WHO in partnership with Family Care International (FCI), the Maternal Health Task Force, UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, the Maternal Child Survival Program, and the White Ribbon Alliance — will launch its much-anticipated report, Strategies Toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM). For FCI and our partners, this report presents an important opportunity to highlight the critical linkages between the health of a woman and that of her newborn baby. Continue reading “Calling for an integrated approach to maternal and newborn health: Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality”