, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – A three day conference on acceleration of access to family planning services opens in Nairobi Tuesday morning.
The meeting to be hosted by United States Agency for International Development aims at identifying gaps in reproductive and family planning services as well as mark the end of a five year USAID funded project on Extending Service Delivery (ESD).
Project Director Milka Dinev said the conference also aims to come up with ways to reach as many women and couples as possible with the information and services on family planning.
“Family planning is a life saving intervention that reduces enormously maternal mortality and infant mortality in our programmes. We will exchange knowledge, models and tools and we will try to have all of the participating countries continue the work that has been started and developed during the five years of ESD,” she said.
The conference brings together USAID’s partners in Sub Saharan Africa who include Angola, Burundi, DRC, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Representatives from USAID, Ministries of Health, ESD partner organisations, USAID cooperating agencies and UN agencies implementing reproductive health and family planning programs in Africa are also expected to attend the meeting.
“We are using a partnership method to get the services to the right people. We partner with religious leaders, women groups, Community based workers and private sector to ensure improved work place services,” Ms Dinev said.
Pathfinder International Deputy Country Representative, Dr Margaret Makumi said the conference would also review some of the models that have worked in particular countries to reach the underserved and hard to reach groups.
“The reasons why there are women who are not using family planning could be because they are not aware of the services. We know there are a lot of myths and misconception as far as family planning is concerned and again for a service to be provided we require the commodity to be available,” Dr Makumi said.
“We also know that if the woman is not supported by her husband or partner she may not use family planning,” she said.
The ESD Project’s goal is to extend the delivery of reproductive health and family planning services to those most in need around the world. They seek to address the need for quality community-based reproductive health and family planning services and information for poor, hard-to-reach and under-served populations.
A study that was conducted by the Centre for the Study of Adolescents last year showed that 60 percent of married women did not use any contraception. The report indicated that only 32 percent of married women used modern method of contraception while eight percent used traditional methods.
The report further indicated that 47 percent of men were of the opinion that women who used contraception could become promiscuous, 44 percent were of the opinion that a woman was the one who became pregnant so she should be the one to get sterilised while 24 percent thought contraceptive use was a woman’s affair and a man should not have to worry about it.