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World Population Day 2013: URC Recommits to Global Family Planning
Tremendous support for family planning and broader maternal and child health has been building for the past year. At the London Summit on Family Planning, governments, international health organizations, and donors made generous financial commitments to meet the reproductive health needs of 120 million women worldwide with an unmet need for family planning. This past May, thousands of global health supporters gathered at the Women Deliver conference to show their support for the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, Every Woman, Every Child, where family planning and reproductive health are recognized as cost-effective activities that improve maternal and child health.
At URC, family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) have been integral components of our programs for over 30 years. URC recognizes how access to quality FP/RH information and services has a profound influence on the lives and well-being of women, men, young people, their families, and their communities. FP/RH is central to achieving long-lasting improvements in health and development and is critical for reducing maternal and child deaths, the spread of HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, nd poverty.
On this World Population Day, the global community pays particular attention to the unique reproductive health needs of young people. Globally, 16 million adolescent girls give birth each year. Early marriage, lack of access to youth friendly services, lack of knowledge, peer pressure, violence, and coercion are among the challenges faced by young people.
URC recognizes the important needs of all women and the need to work across a broad coalition of country governments, donors, multilateral agencies, civil society, and private sector organizations to increase their access to reproductive health information, services, and supplies. URC will support regional, national, and local efforts to meet the health needs of women of all ages and promote ongoing dialogue, learning, and data use to build on proven FP/RH services.
Since 1980, URC has supported more than 40 countries around the world, including the United States, in the development of successful family planning and reproductive health programs. To learn about URC's program efforts in Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, the Philippines, Uganda, and more, please see our technical brief and resources.
Update from Cambodia
In collaboration with local partners, the USAID-funded Better Health Services (BHS) Project reviewed existing family planning information and counseling materials in order to develop updated globally endorsed materials in the local language. Materials included brochures, posters and job-aides for clients and staff. These materials are now being provided at integrated health counseling corners in project-supported hospitals. These counseling corners provide a comfortable environment for clients to learn about family planning options, breast feeding, prenatal care, newborn care, HIV, and nutrition. BHS now has 10 hospital sites that have FP counseling corners in 5 separate provinces. Over the next two years, BHS will share its experiences at the provincial level to advocate for a national program. BHS has also initiated government efforts to provide FP at the hospital level, not only at health centers.
Reflecting in Benin
With funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), URC piloted a small project aimed at learning how to improve the access, provision, and quality of reproductive health services in two rural zones of Benin. The project trained community-based family planning distributors in couples counseling for shared decision-making and engaged religious and community leaders as supporters of family planning. By the end of the project, provision of family planning counseling had increased by 57% in one zone and 65% in the other. Men and community leaders were trained in gender, family planning, and communication skills and health staff were supported to meet demand through coaching and supportive supervision. This project showed that a wide range of community stakeholders can be advocates for family planning and improved community health.
Looking Ahead in Guatemala
In mid-2013, the Nutri-Salud program in Guatemala, funded by USAID, will award grants to local non-government and community-based organizations operating in 30 municipalities of the western highlands. These grants will help local institutions to improve the health and well-being of adolescents by establishing community-based youth-friendly reproductive health services. These efforts aim to reduce teen pregnancy, delay marriage and initiation of sexual activity, promote safer sex options, improve self-esteem, and strengthen family dialogue on important reproductive and biological issues. Specific activities will include: peer education, community radio, and parent and health staff outreach.
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