A Rwandan health worker holds a packet of oral contraceptive pills.

Voluntary Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care

Access to voluntary family planning and reproductive health care for couples and individuals is critical to ensuring safe motherhood, healthy families, and prosperous communities.

Yagazie Emezi/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Voluntary family planning can help women avoid unintended pregnancies and plan and space their desired pregnancies to occur when most healthy for them and their families. Estimates from 2019 show that approximately 218 million women worldwide had an unmet need for modern contraception.1 High unmet family planning needs are associated with higher maternal death rates and more unintended pregnancies and related complications, all of which take a tremendous toll on women’s lives, physical and mental well-being, and productivity. Although modern contraceptive use has increased in many countries, challenges remain in ensuring women are empowered to choose the number and timing of their pregnancies voluntarily. In 2017, about 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth.2

MOMENTUM’s Approach

As the world’s largest family planning bilateral donor, USAID is committed to helping countries meet the voluntary family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) needs of their people. MOMENTUM strives to increase access to quality voluntary FP/RH care as a central strategy for reducing maternal and child mortality in USAID partner countries. Building on decades of USAID learning and investment, MOMENTUM reinforces national technical capacity to lead, finance, and sustain FP/RH care.

Quality

Strengthen access to and quality of care at health facilities

MOMENTUM works with public and private health providers to ensure a range of contraceptive options are available to individuals and families. We provide technical assistance that includes the following:

  • Improving the quality of contraceptive counseling and providing a full spectrum of contraceptive options so that individuals and families can freely select and access a family planning method that meets their personal needs.
  • Engaging private sector FP/RH providers to enhance the quality of care and increase access, particularly in informal environments in urban settings and among youth.
  • Ensuring women and girls can access FP/RH care following acute and prolonged humanitarian crises and in other fragile settings.
  • Increasing life-saving reproductive health care access, including postabortion care and emergency contraception, and postexposure prophylaxis for survivors of sexual assault.

 

Mubeen Siddiqui/MCSP
Access

Increase access to counseling and contraceptive care at the community level

Visiting health facilities for contraceptive care is often challenging for women in rural areas, making them more likely to discontinue contraceptive use requiring a health facility visit. MOMENTUM works with community health workers and other cadres to increase access to and coverage of community-based contraception distribution and family planning counseling. We also work with ministries of health to scale up “self-care” approaches that increase women’s autonomy to use contraception, such as self-administration of injectable contraception and the contraceptive vaginal ring.

Mubeen Siddiqui/MCSP
Adaptation

Integrate messaging and service delivery within other health services

Recent multicountry research shows that integrating voluntary family planning with maternal and child health care is cost-effective and improves health outcomes.3 MOMENTUM helps identify and scale up effective approaches to integrating FP/RH care with other health services, such as providing family planning counseling during child immunization visits. We are also exploring the feasibility of incorporating family planning in non-health sector programs, such as community agricultural activities, to extend the reach of family planning messages.

 

Karen Kasmauski/MCSP
Empowerment

Meet the unique needs of adolescent girls and young women

MOMENTUM works with youth- and women-led organizations to identify innovative and locally appropriate techniques for increasing access to FP/RH care that meets young women and adolescent girls’ unique needs. We also help countries and communities adopt successful approaches for engaging men and adolescent boys as family planning users, supportive partners, and agents of change.

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Leadership

Advance leadership and learning

MOMENTUM provides global technical leadership and contributes new evidence highlighting approaches that improve the quality and accessibility of FP/RH care. Examples include testing new FP/RH service delivery approaches and sharing learning within and across USAID partner countries. In addition, we collaborate with ministries of health to scale up new contraceptive technologies as part of their learning agenda.

Allan Gichigi/MCSP

References

  1. Guttmacher Institute. Adding it Up: Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health 2019—Executive Summary. July 2020 Report. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/adding-it-up-investing-in-sexual-reproductive-health-2019-executive-summary
  2. World Health Organization, Trends in Maternal Mortality 2000 to 2017, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/327596/WHO-RHR-19.23-eng.pdf?ua=1
  3. Family Planning High Impact Practices, www.fphighimpactpractices.org/

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