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Over the past year, the Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health/Family Planning and Malaria Project has trained 181 nurses in rural health posts across Senegal to offer long-term contraceptive methods, such as intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants. This groundbreaking approach will make contraceptives more widely available, and offer Senegalese women more contraceptive options. In Bagadadji, a rural town in southeastern Senegal, this work is already showing results: family planning prevalence has nearly doubled since nurses have been trained to offer long-term methods.
In the past, Senegal’s national policies dictated that nurses could only provide short-term contraceptives such as birth control pills, condoms, and spermicides. Rural health posts—the most widely used health facilities nationally—are largely staffed by nurses, and therefore were not providing long-term methods. Women who wanted these forms of contraception often needed to travel long distances to get them. Now, the Reproductive Health Division of the Ministry of Health is only training nurses in long-term methods in health posts that meet certain criteria (such as having running water and electricity).
The national policy is also being revised to make it possible for nurses to officially offer a wider range of contraceptive choices at more health facilities. This work is an important step toward decreasing unmet need for family planning in a country where it is estimated that only 10% of married women use contraception.
The Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health/Family Planning and Malaria Project is led by IntraHealth International and funded by USAID.