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Family Planning and Community Development: Two Uneasy Bed Fellows- Over 10, 000 Women and Girls Reached

ISSUES

By Victor Massaquoi, Consulting Program Director, PPASL 

 One of the authoritative voices in Sexual Reproductive Health and Human Rights in Sierra Leone, the Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL), Mr. David Williams, has said in Freetown that “If we can manage family planning well, community development and poverty reduction could be achieved by the close of 2030”. He said strategic long term family planning; including infusion of implants is the best answer yet.

In line with the above, in 2015, Reach for Change Africa, a non-governmental organization that specializes in the promotion of social entrepreneurs, published a seminal report predicting social entrepreneurs as the new purveyors of sustainable solutions for Africa’s development priorities. One of central findings discussed in that report was the emerging trend in the area of advances in healthcare delivery. And part of the highlighted healthcare delivery is linked to sexual reproductive health for women and girls—the core priority for the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) project and at the heart of the PPASL core focused area.

The FP2020 being implemented by the PPASL has brought to the fore, the relevance of social entrepreneurs from our volunteer core—community health workers or community based service providers. These are service providers who volunteer to ensure that family planning services (especially LARC) are accessible, affordable, acceptable, confidentiality maintained and referral for services offered and documented.

The FP2020 project seeks to contribute to the unmet needs for family planning, eradication of the Ebola Virus among women, young people and empower them to make informed decision, and seek medical advice using public and private medical facilities.

In a recent mid-term report, the accomplishments highlighted have been impressive within a short period of time. This is a clear indication of increased demand for FP services at a time of serious rise in population resulting in widespread poverty and other socio-economic needs of communities. The results so far are in line with the agreed objectives and intended outcomes as stated in the approved project documents.

Several activities, including baseline surveys of 20 Periphery Health Units to determine their relevance and suitability for the project, stakeholders meeting, refresher trainings were done in three districts: Port Loko, Bo and Western Area, while 60 Community-based Service Providers trained on referrals, service accessibility, acceptability, affordable and clients’ confidentiality. Communities were mobilized, information, education and communication materials were developed and distributed to communities during outreaches and monitoring visitations.

The results have been stunning so, far:

  1. Over 10, 000 clients (women, girls and men) have been reached with FP messages, materials, services and long term contraceptives.
  2. Over a dozen outreaches have been done in Bo, Port Loko and Freetown in hard-to-reach areas and marginalized communities.
  3. The closed to 9, 000 IEC materials produced and distributed have begun producing results in the lives of women and girls by accepting and utilizing FP 2020 products and services
  4. Despite the challenges, nurses, volunteers and communities have been trained in FP 2020 procedures and practices and implant infusion.

The key lesson learnt so far is that for unwanted pregnancies to reduce would rely heavily on the integration of livelihoods skills and support meshed with FP services.

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