“[Family planning] guidelines might be outdated, not available or the providers might not adhere to the instructions in the guidelines. They might also lack training/mentoring to equip them with updated skills, knowledge and attitude which would have limited or prevented bias.” (Challenges family planning providers may encounter, reported by Olajumoke Onalopo, Netherlands)
Part of the HIFA Project on Family Planning and Contraception includes hosting thematic discussions on the HIFA email forum. Our first exchange, held throughout September-November 2017, addressed family planning myths and misconceptions. This time, we looked at ways to support family planning providers. We started by asking, "Just who are they?"
The EAC Regional Share Fair will be held June 20-22 in Entebbe, Uganda. (Click to enlarge.)
The East African Community (EAC), like most other low- and middle-income regions, is grappling with a myriad of disease burdens ranging from common infections, nutritional challenges, and maternal mortality to non-communicable diseases to epidemics. Article 118 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC calls for stronger regional cooperation on health among the partner states. Realization of this mandate requires effective management of the health sector knowledge resources.
The Demographic and Health Surveys Program, CCP and ICF | Communications Associate
In Ghana, mother and son, Mercy and Daniel, lie under the insecticide-treated net (ITN) they received to protect them from malaria. 2016 Sarah Hoibak/VectorWorks, Courtesy of Photoshare.
Malaria continues to pose a tremendous public health threat around the globe. An estimated 3.3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, live in areas of malaria risk. The investments made in vector control, malaria in pregnancy, and prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria infections have resulted in many successes, but challenges remain. One of these challenges is the question of how to best measure the fight against malaria.
Digital Storytelling for Change: The Art of the Interview
A new assessment of the impact of the global storytelling initiative Family Planning Voices shows that stories and storytelling have the potential to change health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. On June 7, 2018, K4Health and the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning (IYAFP) hosted a skills-building webinar to share key tips for capturing an essential story element—the interview—with a mobile phone.
Mothers and children in Antaralava Village, Ranomafana, Madagascar. Credit: 2017 David Alexander/CCP
On May 22, 2018, Family Planning 2020, Health Policy Plus (HP+), Palladium, and the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project hosted Monitoring Matters: Tracking Progress Toward Family Planning Goals to discuss innovative tools within the Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) that are being used to help country governments accelerate their progress towards meeting family planning goals.
When it comes to female contraceptive products, innovation has been more evolutionary than revolutionary. With high unmet need still present, a huge opportunity exists to look at new ways to design products that respond to women’s needs and preferences, rather than forcing women to change their behaviors to suit existing products.
Human-centered design (HCD, also known as “user-centered” design) is a creative, solutions-based approach to problem-solving that puts “users” (in our case, women) at the center of the product design process. Users are actively engaged at every step to ensure their needs and expectations inform the design. We do this by testing the validity of our assumptions with users themselves, in an iterative fashion. This also allows us to move beyond the existing conditions of “what is” to the forward-thinking potential of “what if?” with sensitivity and empathy.
Vaginal rings are a novel drug delivery platform unlike other forms of existing contraceptives. Photo by James DeGroat, courtesy of the Population Council.
Expanding contraceptive options for voluntary family planning is critical for three reasons. First, different people have different needs for pregnancy protection depending on their own individual and family situations. Further, a woman’s needs may change as she progresses through her reproductive life. With that in mind, family planning programs that focus on high-quality services and human rights should offer a wide range of contraceptive options to meet her needs, wherever she’s at in life.
The author wishes to thank Thomas Crouzier, group leader at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, for his contributions to this blog post.
Over the past several decades, contraceptive innovation has mainly focused on advancing hormone-based technologies, which proven themselves to be highly effective at preventing pregnancy. However, their side effects are often cause for discontinuance.
Concerns about hormonal contraception have been well documented by women living in the US and Europe. They are also being raised in low- and middle-income countries, where 26% of women who want to avoid pregnancy do not use hormonal contraceptives because of known or perceived side effects; another 24% opt out because they have infrequent sex and/or do not want a systemic solution.
Access to safe and effective methods of family planning is fundamental to health, education, economic opportunities, and empowerment. Access, however, must mean more than having products present on shelves (although it has to mean that too). To achieve what might be coined as “transformational access,” a level of sustainable access that truly meets the needs of women, we need products that are easier to use, readily fit with women’s lives and preferences, and don’t create their own barriers to continued use. Unfortunately, this is the challenge for millions of women globally who struggle with side effects associated with hormonal methods, particularly changes in menstrual bleeding patterns, which are strongly associated with method discontinuation. While these are among the most effective and safest pharmaceutical products that have ever been developed, they also present women with the regular decision to use a product that presents daily challenges in their life. For this reason, discovery of non-steroidal contraceptive drugs has long been something of a holy grail in contraceptive R&D.