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Elle reports on the progress Senegal has made increasing the use of contraceptives—and the pioneers making it happen.
Family planning in Senegal is not a novel idea, but as Elle recounts, effective strategies to make contraceptives accessible and affordable have been hard won, and only recently.
After decades of stagnant progress, Senegal put reproductive health and family planning at the center of its national health agenda in 2012. Elle reports that the country now sets aside $680,000 and $1.7 billion annually for contraceptives and related health workers, respectively, with encouraging outcomes. In just two years (2012 to 2014), the contraceptive prevalence rate in the country jumped from 12 to 22%. The goal is to increase that rate to above 40% by 2020.
So why the success? Minister of Health Awa Marie Coll Seck credits not only resource investments, but also IntraHealth International’s 2010 family planning campaign as helping change the way the country looks at family planning, something that was lacking in previous attempts to increase usage. Everyone—from religious leaders to teachers to peers—must play a part in promoting reproductive health. The campaign’s goal was to raise contraceptive prevalence rates in eight poor, urban areas from 25% to 40% in five years. They achieved it at the beginning of 2016.
And health workers are seeing a difference. Gabrielle Déguénovo, a midwife who works on IntraHealth’s family planning programs, notices that more girls are going to school and more women are working these past few years, and that a brighter future is possible when everyone is working toward a common goal. Even marriage relations are changing, she says, as she has talks with her husband about family planning —a subject once taboo.
IntraHealth’s work mentioned above was part of the Senegalese Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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