A pregnant woman receives antenatal care services in a remote area of Mindanao, Philippines. Photo credit: URC

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has a long history of armed conflict and political instability that has contributed to population displacement and inequitable access to – and quality of – basic health care.

Comprised of more than 7,000 islands, much of the region is remote and difficult to reach, making it hard for much of its population to seek preventive and curative health care, including reproductive health (RH), family planning (FP), and antenatal care (ANC).

To support the Philippines to improve the region’s health care services, URC has, since 2019, led the USAID Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Health (BARMMHealth) Activity to improve quality family planning, maternal and child health, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) services.

Innovation Grants Program Brings Local Solutions Forward

To bring services closer to women and children, the project launched an innovative grants program that brings local solutions to the forefront. Through the innovation grants program, BARMMHealth has awarded local organizations innovation grants to advance new ways of delivering quality health services to the furthest reaches of Mindanao.

One of the grantees, Mindanao Organization for Social and Economic Progress (MOSEP), received the innovation grant to fund new ideas that scale-up high-impact FP-MCH-ASRH interventions, particularly for those living in geographically isolated disadvantaged areas.

Delivering Local Solutions in Hard-to-Reach Areas

Working in close partnership with local government and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, MOSEP brings relevant, culturally sensitive, and sustainable new solutions. Under the innovation grant, MOSEP has:  

  • Tailored and contextualized postpartum intrauterine device (IUD) training for regional health care providers in Maguindanao
  • Enhanced Usapan (community-based family planning counseling) within the local religious context, helping to dispel common misconceptions on family planning; and
  • Introduced the e-family planning tracking tool “E-FP Mo” which helps track the time-sensitive lactational amenorrhea method (LAM).  This innovation helps community health workers identify women who are using LAM and provide them the option of switching to other family planning methods.

Through the innovation grant, MOSEP is leveraging their deep knowledge of both culture and context to increase the number of women who can now access family planning options.

As a result, “family planning services are being provided to marginalized populations in 24 barangays in four municipalities in Maguindanao,” said Nelia Gumela, Family Planning Specialist for BARMMHealth.   

She added, “It’s a key component of our localization approach. Solutions will remain in local governments, local organizations, and local systems to support the most vulnerable populations in the Philippines.”

MOSEP has ambitious plans moving forward. Next, they plan to create a hotline to provide family planning counseling services via telemedicine to further extend the reach of services.