JSI’s Director of Communications, Penelope Riseborough, interviews Dr. Chikuba-McLeod, JSI’s Project Director for USAID DISCOVER-Health and Zambia Country Representative, on public health and how she started her distinguished career in Zambia and internationally.
Three years ago, when Benin hovered near the bottom of the world statistics on contraceptive prevalence, and all we heard from naysayers was how “impossible and culturally sensitive” family planning is in the country, I might not have bet very much on this [the introduction of Sayana Press] being a success. But it has been so far, and all signs show it promises to go further, even faster.
On September 26, World Contraception Day 2017, the Beninese Ministry of Health will formally launch Sayana Press—a small, easy-to-use, prefilled, three-month injectable contraceptive that is expanding the contraceptive method mix. Given the enthusiastic response from clients, service providers, and policymakers, Sayana Press has the potential to revolutionize contraceptive use in Benin.
Having the logistics system in place means that women from remote areas can rely on public health centers to provide a steady supply of contraceptives and reproductive health medicines.
Family planning is one of the most life-saving, empowering, and cost-effective interventions for women and girls. When women have access to family planning services and reproductive health commodities, they are more likely to go further in their education, survive childbirth, and raise healthier children. Giving women the tools to plan their families can transform economies.
Community health workers can meet women in their homes to provide accurate information, counseling, and contraceptives. This intimate service provision allows women and men to decide for themselves, perhaps for the first time, the number, timing, and spacing of their children.
JSI worked with twelve publicly-funded family planning sites to increase access to most and moderately effective methods of contraception at these sites. This was accomplished through an eight-month national learning collaborative that included monthly online learning sessions.
Since 2006, the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT, implemented by JSI, has worked in coordination with governments and international and local partners in over 72 countries to achieve universal access to family planning by strengthening health commodity supply chains and the policy environments that support them. In each country, we have had an impact. Over the life of the project, commodities shipped by the project have averted an estimated 79.4 million unwanted pregnancies, prevented more than 200,000 maternal deaths, and averted more than 1.2 million child deaths.
As we commemorate World Contraception Day 2016, we must note that approximately 225 million women worldwide still lack access to a modern method of contraception. Increasing access to family planning was a premier goal of the Millennium Development Goals, and if we are to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and the FP2020 goal of reaching 120 million new users of contraception in the world’s poorest 69 countries, we must provide people with readily available contraception.
Since 2012, 24.4 million more women and girls are accessing modern contraception, bringing the total to 290.6 million users in the 69 FP2020 focus countries. Yet as we take time to celebrate these gains for women and girls, we know that there are still places in the world where a woman’s choice to use those contraceptives is not a given. As of 2015, 10 million fewer women and girls have been reached with lifesaving contraception than we had hoped by this time. Continuing at this pace means that millions of women and girls will not receive the family planning services and supplies they need to support their fundamental right to make decisions about their reproductive health. JSI’s Leslie Patykewich looks at the gains that have been made in ensuring women and girls have access to contraceptive information, services and supplies, and ways to address the barriers that are still faced.