male providers

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    © 2011 Adrienne Allison World Vision, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Two women in Senegal discuss long-acting family planning methods. © 2011 Adrienne Allison World Vision, Courtesy of Photoshare

     

    West African countries have the highest fertility rates in the world, with an average of 5.5 births per woman; they also have the lowest levels of contraceptive use.

    As a longtime physician and family planning/reproductive health trainer at IntraHealth International, I see several reasons for this. When I started training male health providers in family planning services in West Africa in 1997, I was met with a lot of resistance. Many men thought that female clients wouldn’t want to talk to male health providers. But I told them, “It depends on how they see you. When you return to your facility, you need to tell people what you can do for them, advertise your new skills in family planning services, encourage women to come with their husbands so they can trust you as a couple, and build trust within community.”