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More than 70 program managers, government officials, coaches and staff from The Challenge Initiative (TCI) attended a webinar on Sept. 30, to learn about strategies to expand access to family planning among the urban poor in the Francophone West Africa (FWA) region. The webinar, which was presented in French and included English interpretation, kicked off with a brief introduction to TCI from Hawa Talla, TCI’s chief of party in FWA, before participants heard from Maria Ba, director of the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordinating Unit. After celebrating a decade of achievements in family planning in the region, Ba reflected on inequities in the use of modern contraceptive methods among women of reproductive age, highlighting persistent disparities between the poorest and richest quintiles and rural and urban populations. Ba noted promising opportunities to galvanize local governments and implementing partners to expand access to family planning through high-impact approaches, such as free services, postpartum family planning, and youth-friendly services.
The first panelist, Dr. Zombre Sanon Marcella Valérie, pediatrician and director of family health in Burkina Faso, shared her country’s comprehensive policy framework for family planning, which encompasses strategies to tackle demand generation, service delivery and access, commodities, an enabling environment, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation. Dr. Marcella Valérie then described the context of a decentralized system, where capacity to manage health programming has been transferred to municipalities and regions. In Burkina Faso, municipalities have an essential role to play in family planning, specifically in its resourcing, quality improvement for service delivery, and the implementation of high-impact approaches. Before closing, Dr. Marcella Valérie shared examples of how the country has adapted services as part of the nationwide response to COVID-19, including through the adaptation of counseling to address safety during the pandemic while continuing to ensure informed choice family planning counseling.
Participants then heard from Dr. Moukaila Tchagafou, the director of private sector and community engagement from Amplify-FP’s office in Togo. Dr. Tchagafou shared Amplify-FP’s ambitious strategy to reach more than 10 million women with modern contraceptives. Amplify-FP does this by working with the health system to scale high-impact approaches; mobilizing communities, donors and governments to fund FP programs; and ensuring service quality and coordinating with other partners. The project is leveraging task shifting to provide long-acting reversible contraceptives, postpartum family planning, and tailored services for adolescents and youth to reach their needs. Dr. Tchagafou echoed that Amplify-FP has also faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the importance of leveraging community health workers to offer family planning services such as DMPA-SC in homes since many women are hesitant to go to health centers at this time.
Last but not least, participants heard from TCI’s country program manager in Benin, Hugues Gnahoui, who highlighted the challenging context in Francophone West Africa, citing barriers across health systems, as well as the economic, societal, and political levels. Despite these, Gnahoui shared how TCI’s deployment of coaches who work hand-in-hand with key stakeholders from the region’s health systems and municipalities to the community has allowed for the rapid scale up and adaptation of high-impact approaches, including universal referral, special FP days, household mapping, and young transformational leaders, among others. Finally, Gnahoui highlighted the critical role of strengthened collaboration and coordination among family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health programs to ensure the sustainable institutionalization of high-impact approaches in Francophone West Africa.
To learn more about how the Ouagadougou Partnership, Amplify-FP, and TCI are partnering with the Burkinabe government and eight others across Francophone West Africa to expand access to family planning among the urban poor, watch the 75-minute webinar. Stay tuned for additional webinars in this series designed to share implementation guidance and how-to tips related to TCI’s high-impact practices.