• Blog post

    This post originally appeared on the PSI Impact blog.

    EECO female condom marketing

    © PSI/Gareth Bentley

    Gloria dreams of a contraceptive and HIV prevention method that she can control. As a university student in Zambia, Gloria goes on dates in between working and studying. Some of the men have potential. She could imagine marrying one of them and having children together someday. Gloria relies on her partners to use male condoms—but sometimes they don’t, leaving her frustrated and scared.

  • Blog post
    EECO female condom shopkeeper

    PSI/Gareth Bentley

    This post originally appeared on the PSI Impact blog.

    Clara took a chance and bought 15 units of Whisper, a new female condom, to sell in her small shop in the fast-growing city of Mzuzu, Malawi. She was willing to test demand for the product in hopes of helping women in her community while also boosting her business.

    “I became a single mother myself before I was ready to have a child,” Clara explains. “I wish there were more options for women to protect themselves.”

    Clara learned about the Whisper Woman’s Condom from Kitty, a medical detailer who visited the shop. Kitty described how the product was different from earlier generations of the female condom, with new features designed to make it easy and comfortable to use. Female condoms like Whisper are the only woman-controlled method that provides triple protection against unintended pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • Blog post
    happy Woman's Condom couple

    The EECO team hopes that targeted marketing and education will lead to an increased interest in female condom products, and thus more protected sex. Photo: PSI

    Imagine a woman named Cynthia who lives in Malawi.

    Cynthia’s boyfriend Ben doesn’t like to use condoms. And she doesn’t feel like she can insist on condom use. At 20 years old, Cynthia dreams of finishing her studies before having kids. She doesn’t want to get pregnant right now, or risk contracting HIV. Without the use of condoms, Cynthia feels she has few options.

    Cynthia is an archetype, a fictional character typical of a broader group. Globally, there are many women like Cynthia who lack negotiating power within their relationship to insist on condom use. Women account for just over half of the 37 million people worldwide who are living with HIV or AIDS1. In sub-Saharan Africa, the rate of new infection disproportionately affects women, with the highest burden among young women ages 15-242. Condoms are a well-known method of preventing both sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy, but for many women, this isn’t an option. Due to this gender-based inequality, there is a dire need for methods that are woman-initiated.

  • Blog post
    Women should be able to find and use a contraceptive method of their choice, and self-injection with DMPA may be an appealing option for those who want to manage their own reproductive health.

    Women should be able to find and use a contraceptive method of their choice, and self-injection with DMPA may be an appealing option for those who want to manage their own reproductive health. Photo: PATH/Will Boase

    Recent evidence on self-injection of a new injectable contraceptive called subcutaneous DMPA (DMPA-SC) is providing one possible answer to an age-old question in family planning: How do we address barriers that make it difficult for women to keep using contraception consistently?

    According to three recent studies, women who self-inject with DMPA-SC in their own homes or communities may continue using injectable contraception longer than those who receive injections from providers. In many Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) countries, injectable contraception is already popular, but often requires women to return to clinics every three months for injections. This can pose a significant barrier to consistent contraceptive use, especially for women who live in rural and remote areas. These new findings on self-injection should be very good news for women who like injectable contraception—if the global FP field has the courage to put this option for pregnancy prevention directly in women’s hands.

  • Blog post
    A community health worker with the Nawandala Village Health Team (VHT) gives the Sayana Press injection at her own home in Kiringa B Village, Uganda.

    A community health worker with the Nawandala Village Health Team (VHT) gives the Sayana Press injection at her own home in Kiringa B Village, Uganda. © 2016 Laura Wando, WellShare International Uganda, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Envision a health system in which quality family planning information and services are accessible to everyone in their local communities. Community-based family planning (CBFP) lessens the burden of having to travel to health facilities while providing valuable and comprehensive care. In countries where CBFP is being implemented, contraceptive methods are being provided to women, men, and couples typically using a combination of three high-impact practices: provision by community health workers, mobile outreach, and drug shops.

  • Resource

    Advocacy is essential to reaching the Family Planning 2020 goal of delivering contraceptives, information, and services to an additional 120 million women of reproductive age worldwide by the year 2020. In this video, Ethel Chavula of Jesus Cares Ministries discusses how she and a network of advocates successfully increased Malawi’s contraceptive budget line.

  • 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
    Tweet About ECSA Health Community Best Practices Forum

    This month I had the privilege of attending the East Central and Southern African Health Community’s (ECSA-HC) 8th Best Practices Forum in Tanzania. In addition to sharing best practices in universal health coverage, human resources for health, and communicable and non-communicable diseases, the Forum celebrated ECSA-HC’s 40th anniversary of fostering regional cooperation to improve health.

    Forum attendees also welcomed ECSA-HC’s new Director General, Professor Yoswa Dambisya, an expert in human resources for health.

    According to it's website, ECSA-HC is an intergovernmental organization that "works with countries and partners to raise the standard of health for the people of the ECSA region by promoting efficiency and effectiveness of health services through cooperation, collaboration, research, capacity building, policy development and advocacy. Member states of the ECSA Health Community include Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe." 

  • Blog post

    To me, [community health workers] are very helpful because in most cases I am busy. They have taken over that heavy work. You see, family planning needs a lot of talking to clients and yet I am always busy at the unit with deliveries, antenatal, immunization and many others. So with them I get helped. They have really taken off a big burden from me. 

    ~Achieng Rose, Midwife, Bulumbi Health Clinic, Busia, Uganda

    Global health worker crisis

    © 2013 Todd Shapera, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Community Health Worker Marie Chantal walks into her village of Batamuliza Hururiro, near Rukumo Health Center, Rwanda. © 2013 Todd Shapera, Courtesy of Photoshare

    Right now, we are 7.2 million health workers short of meeting the global population’s health care needs. By 2035, that shortage will reach 12.8 million. Twenty-nine of the 46 sub-Saharan countries are below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lowest category of 2.5 doctors per 10,000 individuals. Moreover, medical providers are unevenly distributed; in most low-resource countries, doctors and nurses typically live and practice in urban areas, yet the majority of the populations in those countries reside in rural areas. Family planning services, in particular, suffer from grossly inadequate numbers of providers to meet the needs. A 2012 Guttmacher Institute estimate calculated 222 million women with an unmet need for modern contraception in low-resource countries.

  • Blog post

    A recent Impatient Optimists blog post by Imani Cheers shows how community health workers in Malawi are using mobile technology to counter unreliable and out of date information. Concern Worldwide’s project, Chipatala cha pa foni (Health Center by Phone), connects information seekers to a District Hospital by phone. Making accurate health information available and accessible through innovative means is what we’re all about at K4Health. Read about other countries’ experiences using mobile technologies to improve health services in our  mHealth Toolkit


    Doreen Namasala has been a community health worker for over a decade in rural Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa. With a population of roughly 15 million, an estimated 60 percent of women report having serious problems accessing health care due to distance, according to the country’s ministry of health.