• Blog post
    mSTAR Project clinic photo

    Stacey Machayo, at OliveLink Healthcare clinic in Sinai (Nairobi) after receiving treatment though M-TIBA for her daughter. Image provided by FHI 360.

    This blog post originally appeared on the website of FHI 360's mSTAR Project.

    Digital financial services provide a way for practitioners to strengthen health programs and improve health outcomes, yet few have recognized their full value. In Kenya, where lack of money prevents two out of five people from seeking treatment, a new digital platform is helping to make healthcare affordable and accessible. Known as M-TIBA, the platform enables users to access health savings accounts and pay for insurance premiums, all at a low cost via the mobile phone. The platform has the potential to offer more in the future, with the M-TIBA team currently working on an emergency loan for medical expenses. More than 1.4 million users have joined M-TIBA, with users and insurance policies growing each day.

  • Blog post
    why family planning

    Illustration: Emmanuel Nyakwada

    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.

  • Resource

    In August 2016, K4Health tested the WhatsApp Messenger platform as a mode to deliver family planning continued professional development training content to Kenyan health workers and promote knowledge exchange and discussion. A seven-week training program on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy (HTSP) was designed and delivered to 160 participants. The findings from this training activity reveal that WhatsApp is well-received as a platform for continuing professional development. Implementation of the activity also led to a number of lessons learned around training setup, facilitation, and active participation.

  • Resource

    In response to a growing demand for customized training content, K4Health began to explore new ways to deliver the technical global health content available online for free from the Global Health eLearning Center (GHeL). The goal was to reach a wider audience of health care program managers and health care providers working in low- and middle-income countries. This white paper describes K4Health’s IVR activity implementation, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It also serves as a guiding example for other program implementers and organizations interested in using IVR to train health professionals.

  • Blog post
    In addition to being one of the most effective forms of contraception available, the LNG-IUS has important non-contraceptive benefits.

    In addition to being one of the most effective forms of contraception available, the LNG-IUS has important non-contraceptive benefits. Photo courtesy of FHI 360.

    Over the past several months, K4Health has been shining a spotlight on LARCs, which stands for long-acting reversible contraceptives. While LARCs offer multiple advantages—they are highly effective, long-acting and cost-effective, and fertility returns quickly after removal—the term is actually a bit misleading. The acronym implies that a multitude of family planning methods fit within that broad category. But the truth is that that only two general types of methods meet the LARC definition: contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

  • Blog post
    A client receives counseling from health workers

    A client receives counseling from health workers.

    Contraceptive uptake among women in Kenya has steadily risen over the last ten years, and injectables and implants have emerged as the most popular modern methods.

    But who is meeting this growing demand for family planning information and services?

  • Blog post

    These days, many of us are glued to our mobile phones. We use them for texting, looking up directions, playing word games, or listening to music. Using them to talk seems secondary. Mobile phones have become the one thing we can’t seem to live without.

  • Blog post
    Photo courtesy of Norbert Boruett

    IVR allows more information to be communicated than a standard text message on a basic phone. Photo courtesy of Norbert Boruett.

    This post originally appeared on IntraHealth's Tumblr, Picture It.

    A student at the Kenya Medical Training College Kitui receives a text for a refresher course on family planning she’s taking through the K4Health project.

    The course combines mobile phone and interactive voice response (IVR) technology to deliver up to 20 questions with accompanying explanations to health professional students and health workers—entirely on their mobile phones. They all previously completed courses online at the USAID-supported Global Health eLearning Center.

    Whenever she’s ready, the student can listen to the day’s questions and type back her answers. She’ll receive audio feedback right away and once she’s answered all the questions correctly twice in a row, she’ll complete the course.

  • Blog post

    Abstract Submission Deadline Extended to November 6, 2015

    The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community

    The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community is a regional inter-governmental health organization that fosters and promotes regional cooperation in health among its ten member states.

    Contribute to the health policy conversation! The East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) has extended the deadline for submitting abstracts to its 62nd ECSA Health Ministers Conference, to be held from 30th November to 4th December, 2015, in Port Louis, Mauritius.

    The theme of the Conference is Transitioning from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. The Conference will address the theme by examining four areas:

    1. Enhancing universal health coverage through innovations in health financing for risk protection
    2. Surveillance and control of emerging health conditions (NCDs and trauma)
    3. Regional collaboration in the surveillance and control of communicable diseases
    4. Innovations in health professional training using the College of Health Sciences model

  • Blog post
    Community Conversation Isiolo County

    Community Conversation Isiolo County. Photo credit: Adrienne Allison, World Vision. 

    While World Vision was preparing to integrate Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies and Family Planning (HTSP/FP) within a community-based maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) program in Isiolo County, we found that only 8% of women with a child younger than two used contraception even though 77% knew where to get counseling and services. Moreover, 32% had five or more children, and 80% wanted another child within 24 months of their previous birth. This pronatalist society valued large families, as well as large herds of goats and camels, as buffers against adversity in their harsh, semi-arid climate. Furthermore, they distrusted “family planning”—a foreign concept.

    As we identified these barriers, we recognized that men were the gatekeepers to their communities: imams influenced men, and men made family fertility decisions about whether and when their many wives would conceive.

    Our initial focus was on engaging men by introducing them to a new concept: the health benefits of timing and spacing pregnancies. We trained 71 male and 36 female Community Health Workers (CHWs), 5 Community Health Extension Workers, and several facility-based Ministry of Health (MOH) staff to provide both men and women with friendly, positive counseling on HTSP and the contraceptives that would help them begin to time and space pregnancies to improve the health of women and their children.