In Their Own Words: Family Planning Special Days Generate Demand for Contraception in Niamey
Contributors: Fatimata Sow and Annette McFarland
Madame Ramatou Idrissa is the Reproductive Health (RH) Focal Point for District 5 in Niamey, Niger. A midwife by training with a master’s degree in reproductive health, Idrissa has 10 years of experience working with healthcare providers.
The Challenge Initiative (TCI) trained her in 2019 to be a coach supporting the implementation of TCI’s high-impact approaches in health facilities in District 5. In October 2020, Idrissa was instrumental in planning and implementing Family Planning Special Days – a TCI approach where family planning services are offered free of charge on specified days – at two health facilities in District 5 (Gaweye and Bangabana). According to Idrissa, the Family Planning Special Days were a good opportunity to evaluate the performance of family planning service providers.
It is a way for us RH coaches to make sure that the providers we have trained have perfect mastery of protocols and techniques.”
She recently sat down with TCI to share more about how those Family Planning Special Days went.
How did you plan the Family Planning Special Days?
First a preparatory meeting was held including regional health officials, district health officials and healthcare providers to identify the needs, potential health facilities and expected results. The roles and responsibilities for each actor were defined. To avoid delays, the Regional Directorate of Public Health arranged for contraceptives to be supplied directly to the health facilities for the FP Special Days. The Chief Medical Officer of the district proposed the health facilities for the activity, informed various actors, and ensured the availability of personnel and materials, including contraceptives, data collection forms, job aids, etc. As the RH Focal Point, it was my job to ensure the quality of services, making sure the health facilities were set up and the providers were trained in confidentiality, infection prevention, protocols, etc.”
How did the Family Planning Special Days go?
Community volunteers linked to the two health facilities, called community relays, conducted demand generation activities including home visits, personal interviews and enlisting a town crier to announce the activity for five days before the FP Special Days. The community relays used household mapping to directly target neighborhoods and women to be invited to the FP Special Days. Community relays even accompanied women to the health facilities on the FP Special Days. While women waited to receive services at the health facilities, health care providers – including midwives and nurses, as well as the Community Relays – gave health talks. They counseled women on available FP methods, their side effects, the benefits of FP for the mother, child, family and society, post-partum family planning, the importance of follow-up visits, dispelling myths and rumors, and preventing COVID-19. FP Special Days in District 5 were successful because it gave women an opportunity to receive a lot of health information and improved women’s use of FP services at the two health facilities.”
What were the results? Will you do FP Special Days again?
Over the three FP Special Days, Bangabana health center recruited 126 new family planning users, compared to an average of about 75 new users per month. Gaweye health center, which averages about 50 new users of family planning per month, recruited 96 new users through the FP Special Days. Since October, we have implemented another FP Special Day, and it is expected that the FP Special Days will be budgeted for from the pooled fund for the state, so this activity can continue if the commitments made are met.”
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