Reaching East Africa Communities to Deliver Family Planning Services Amid COVID-19
As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise all over the world, health systems, understandably, are focused on limiting the spread and impact of the pandemic. However, other important health issues cannot be ignored, notably reproductive health services.
In East Africa, The Challenge Initiative (TCI) – locally implemented as Tupange Pamoja – is working with local governments to ensure recent successes in increased access and uptake of modern family planning are maintained to avoid serious consequences to the lives of poor urban women and girls.
Though the implementation of TCI’s high-impact family planning solutions has been affected, established Ministry of Health community structures continue to offer a lifeline to reach women, men and girls with family planning information and services. Community health volunteers (CHVs) and village health teams (VHTs) are finding creative ways to disseminate self-care messages and distribute contraceptive pills and condoms to support local governments responding to the pandemic.
At TCI Tupange Pamoja-supported facilities, infection prevention and control (IPC) during family planning services has been strengthened while making sure contraceptive commodities are still available. Family planning messages integrated with COVID-19 information are being disseminated through health providers as well as TCI family planning champions who can participate in activities like radio shows. The CHVs/VHTs are also distributing short-acting contraception while also informing communities about the availability of services and making referrals to facilities.
Health providers at the facility level are also ensuring core elements of family planning and contraception services are still available, with COVID-19 guidelines and policies currently in place to ensure access to these services.