MSI-US

Marie Stopes International (MSI), a not-for-profit sexual and reproductive health organization, is committed to the vision of "children by choice-not chance." MSI strives to realize a world with universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, where women and couples can freely exercise their right to decide whether and when to have children. To reach this goal, MSI uses modern business methods to deliver high quality family planning and reproductive healthcare to millions of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people. Founded in 1976, Marie Stopes International has evolved from the first-ever family planning clinic in the UK, opened by Marie Stopes in 1921, to ...
Jan 13, 2014

22 Health Champions have now been trained!

Family Planning Sculpture Unveiling
Family Planning Sculpture Unveiling

It’s been a great end to 2013 for the project, Train Afghan Women to Champion Reproductive Health!  With invaluable support from GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, between October 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013 we were able to reach more women through this expanding program.  The additional Mullahs’ wives we were able to recruit and train (thanks to your support!) as Health Education Champions (HECs) during the last reporting period have brought our team to a total number of 22 HECs, eleven in Herat Province and eleven in Balkh.  This means we were able to reach significantly more women!  

Between October 1 and December 31, 2013 HECs reached 970 women in Herat Province with essential reproductive health messages including messages on family planning, birth spacing, and the importance of breast feeding.  As a result, 362 new clients visited our clinics to receive a range of services including family planning counselling and services, ante natal care, post natal care, STI testing, and health care for children less than five years of age.

In the same period, HECs reached 1,334 women in Balkh Province with essential reproductive health messages and as a result, 472 new clients were referred to MSIA clinics.  These are huge numbers for the program.  This demonstrates both the significant demand for our services and the effectiveness of Mullahs’ wives as a medium to deliver these essential messages.

The number of women reached during the reporting period increased significantly from earlier in the year due to our expanded team, which included enthusiastic and hardworking new recruits.  HECs were able to hold even more sessions and 15 or more women usually attended each session.

Significantly, the locations where the HECs delivered their messages changed somewhat with more Mullahs’ wives holding education sessions outside of their homes.  HECs spoke at women’s gatherings, community events and ceremonies, as well as at religious schools.  One HEC began preaching in the Women’s Mosque and as a result, many more women were reached with these essential reproductive health messages.  This is a very significant and positive development and reflects the ever increasing visibility and importance placed on family planning and maternal and child health in Afghanistan.  The number of women referred to MSIA clinics also increased because of the efforts of the new recruits and the changing location of the message delivery.  Additionally, more Mullahs’ wives accompanied women to MSIA clinics.

Challenges encountered stem from the increasing number of women wishing to attend MSIA clinics and requesting that the Mullahs’ wives accompanu them.  This clearly demonstrates the strong relationship and trust between the women and the Mullahs’ wives and this accompaniment is often encouraged as women must have a guardian.  It does however also mean that the Mullahs’ wives are very busy and face challenges with meeting the cost of transport.

We are also excited to announce the unveiling of the family planning sculpture that took place in Kabul on January 8, 2014.  Entitled the ‘Hand of Hope,’ the sculpture celebrates reproductive health in Afghanistan.  A number of our religious leaders were invited to the sculpture unveiling event and the Public Health Minister, Dr. Soraya Dalil, made a point of recognizing their important role in raising awareness of family planning in Afghanistan.  For more information on this event, please refer to the Marie Stopes website: http://www.mariestopes.org/news/putting-family-planning-hands-afghan-women

 

Thank you again for helping women in Afghanistan receive needed family planning services!

Oct 14, 2013

Thanks to your help we have reached 2,216 women!

Health Education Champions Lead Education Session
Health Education Champions Lead Education Session

We have wonderful news to share!  With invaluable support from GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, between June 1st, 2012 and September 30th, 2013, we were able to reach more women through this expanding program!  We are continuing to train religious leaders’ wives on sexual and reproductive health and family planning to enable them to raise awareness among other women in their communities.  Throughout this project, we have learned that collaborating with religious leaders and their wives, is a very effective way to provide essential and life-saving information to women regarding sexual and reproductive health and family planning services.

Through the generous support of donors (INCLUDING YOU!), we were recently provided with funding for the second phase of this critical project.  Through this project, Health Education Champions (HECs) receive training on reproductive health, in order to then share this valuable information with women in their communities through educational events and sessions.  This grassroots level engagement has proven to be very effective, as religious leaders and their wives are highly respected in their communities.  Their position in their communities enables them to ensure that important information regarding reproductive health services reaches both men and women.  Between June-September 2013, 12 new HECs were recruited, interviewed, and selected; these new HECs then received basic training; moreover, 10 existing Health Education Champions received refresher trainings.  These trainings focused on sexual and reproductive health, breast feeding, and basic health education.  In total, 11 religious leaders’ wives in Herat province and 11 religious leaders’ wives in Balkh province have been trained as Health Education Champions (HEC). 

From June-September 2013, the HECs provided sexual and reproductive health education and counseling services to 720 women (including 300 women in Balkh province and 420 women in Herat province).  Since the beginning of the project in June 2012, the HECs have already reached 2,216 women!  As a result of receiving this education, 142 new family planning users visited MSI Afghanistan (MSIA) clinics (from June – September 2013).  The majority of women that have been reached are younger than 25 years of age and have between three to four children.  This result demonstrates that this model of education is effective in reaching young women, including newly married women, who benefit from education regarding birth spacing.  MSIA referral reports continue to demonstrate that “word of mouth” recommendations are an important factor that influenced women’s decisions to visit MSIA clinics.

To further evaluate the success of this project and to track the activities implemented by the HECs, MSIA is currently designing a follow-up Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) survey to be administered in November 2013.  This survey will then be compared to the baseline KAP survey conducted during the previous project period (from April-May 2013).  This will help us gain a better understanding of individuals’ KAPs linked to family planning after receiving this sexual and reproductive health education.  Through this assessment, we hope to measure an increase in individuals’ knowledge around family planning and reproductive health services due to this project.

In order to continue to increase access to reproductive health education, irrespective of their level of education or literacy, MSIA’s development of visual training materials is proving to be effective in communicating with a broad spectrum of women.  We are very grateful for your generous support of Marie Stopes International’s project, which trains Afghan Women to Champion Reproductive Health; we couldn’t do this important work without you!  We will continue to update you on our efforts to reach even more women living in remote communities.

Jul 15, 2013

Thanks to your help, 10 health education champions have reached 1,496 women in Afghanistan!

Health Education inside a Madrassa
Health Education inside a Madrassa

We have great news!  With generous support from GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, between June 1st, 2012 and May 30th, 2013, we were able to reach more women with this growing program! 

Ten religious leaders’ wives have been trained as Health Education Champions (HEC), providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and counseling services to 1,496 women in Afghanistan.  This group of 1,496 training attendees included 707 women in Balkh province, and 789 women in Herat province.  Specifically, from March 1, 2013-May 30th, 2013, the Health Education Champions provided services to 1,009 women.  Due to the implementation of this cost-effective model and the initial scale-up of the project, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) drastically exceeded expectations and successfully increased the number of clients reached during this reporting period.  MSIA is grateful for the dedication of the Health Education Champions and the generous support of donors, including all of you, which has enabled us to secure additional funding for Phase II of the project.

Through this project, the majority of the women reached are younger than 25 years of age and many have between 3-4 children.  MSIA referral reports have shown that “word of mouth” recommendations influenced some women’s decisions to visit MSIA clinics.

MSIA monitored and evaluated the project and determined that 27 women who received sexual and reproductive health education did not visit a MSIA clinic for one of the following reasons: 1) due to their husbands’ disapproval/lack of acceptance, 2) a lack of interest in receiving voluntary family planning services, and/or 3) a desire to delay the adoption of family planning methods.  In addition, research indicates that many clients’ husbands are not comfortable with permitting their wives to remain outside the clinic for lengthy periods of time.  Accordingly, to address this barrier and to honor a recommendation made by the sexual and reproductive health champions during the previous project reporting period, MSIA has implemented a method of timely and fast track service delivery for clients referred to clinics by the champions.  Through this fast track service delivery, MSIA has implemented additional outreach efforts, whereby religious leaders’ wives communicate with clients’ husbands, in order to encourage them to permit their wives to visit MSIA clinics accompanied by a religious leader’s wife.  Furthermore, MSI is in the process of securing female religious schools (Madrassas) within certain remote neighborhoods to serve as temporary hubs, which can provide sexual and reproductive health services and counteract burdensome travel costs and time constraints which often prevent women from seeking these services.  Moreover, to address barriers pertaining to prohibitive travel expenses and clinic inaccessibility, MSIA now provides clients with 150 AFN (approximately US$3) to cover the cost of a rickshaw trip to the hospital.  By mitigating these barriers to access, MSIA has enabled a greater number of clients to access sexual and reproductive health services and to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights.

To further measure the success of this sexual and reproductive health project and to track the activities implemented by the sexual and reproductive health champions, MSIA designed a questionnaire to gain a more comprehensive understanding of beneficiaries’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) of family planning after receiving sexual and reproductive health education.  They then interviewed 10% of the beneficiaries, totaling 165 clients.  Following the sexual and reproductive health education session(s), the results indicated that 94% of participants interviewed could name all family planning methods and understood the benefits and side effects of different methods.  97% believed that family planning is important for their health and the prosperity of their family, and 89% of interviewees had already attended one MSIA clinic, following the education session, and had received family planning services in either Balkh or Herat province.  These research results demonstrate the comprehensive nature of the health education conducted by the Health Education Champions, and highlight the Health Education Champions’ success in encouraging women to seek family planning services.        

Thank you for your generous support of Marie Stopes International’s project, which trains Afghan Women to Champion Reproductive Health; we couldn’t do this important work without you!  We will continue to update you on the Health Education Champions’ efforts to reach additional women living in remote communities, and to increase the accessibility of sexual and reproductive health education and service delivery in the Balkh and Herat provinces.