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.
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.
With support from generous donors like you and the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) trained ten Mullahs’ wives to serve as health education champions (HECs), empowering them to talk to other female members of their communities about family planning and reproductive health. Since the onset of the project, a total of 387 women have received reproductive health education directly and it is anticipated that many more have received information indirectly.
Since September, the newly trained HECs have and will continue to conduct educational sessions with small groups of 6 to 10 women. Each wife will host between 10 and 12 sessions so that by the end of this project they will have collectively reached 720 women.
All of the attendees at the sessions receive cards referring them to MSIA clinics for additional counseling and voluntary family planning services. Analysis of the referral log book revealed the training has made a positive impact on the number of new family planning users, resulting in an increase in family planning users in each province.
For instance, in Herat province, the project achieved an 8.6% increase in clients using MSIA services. A total of 220 women attended the health education sessions hosted by the wives. Of these attendees, 150 women visited MSIA clinics as new clients for family planning and maternal health services, such as prenatal and postnatal healthcare. According the referral log book, of the 150 clients successfully referred to MSIA, 137 received family planning services for the first time.
In Balk province, 167 women attended the reproductive health education sessions hosted by the Mullahs' wives. The clinic referral log book revealed that of the 167 women in Balkh who attended the sessions, 30 women visited the nearest MSIA clinic to receive family planning services.
As we anticipated, there has been an increased acceptance by Mullahs’ wives about the family planning needs of young women. By training these women to champion family planning and reproductive health, MSIA has also seen increased acceptance by mothers-in-law about the family planning needs of young women, especially their daughters-in-law. This will ultimately lead to increased access by young women to reproductive health services which will avert maternal deaths.
Please look out for more updates on the project’s progress as the reproductive health champions continue to host health education sessions in their communities, improving access to and use of life-saving reproductive health and family planning services. Thank you again for supporting this incredible work!
Thanks to generous support from you and the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, ten wives of religious leaders have been trained and are currently dispensing information and providing counseling about family planning and reproductive health in their communities, inspiring more than 150 women to visit Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) clinics.
Beginning in September, ten wives of mullahs began to receive training in their homes on an individualized basis by expert health educators from MSIA clinics. After completing six days of comprehensive training on sexual and reproductive health and nutrition, the wives were ready to host their own health education sessions for other women in their communities.
Since then, a total of 20 health education sessions have been scheduled and hosted by wives in Herat and Balkh provinces. Each session was conducted inside a religious leader’s home for groups of 6-8 women who had not previously used a method of contraception. The sessions were typically held in the afternoon and lasted four hours. Although it was challenging to schedule the sessions at times that worked for everyone invited, a total of 160 women attended. The religious leaders’ wives hosted the meetings, answering questions and providing their guests with information about sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, and child nutrition.
Many of the women in attendance reported that their husbands and mother-in-laws do not allow them to leave their houses; in the rare instances when they can venture outside, they must be accompanied by their mother-in-laws at all times. The women also asked questions about family planning in relation to Islam. Referring to passages from the Qur'an that indicate the permissibility of birth spacing, the wives encouraged the women to use similar reasoning and clarification when explaining the importance of family planning to their husbands and mother-in-laws.
All of the attendees received cards referring them to MSIA clinics for additional counseling and voluntary family planning services. After tracking the referrals, MSIA learned that 157 women who participated in the wives’ health education sessions—all except three—visited MSIA clinics during this period. The high rates of referral indicate just how strongly religious leaders and their wives influence members of their community.
We look forward to updating you on the incredible work of the newly trained reproductive health champions as they continue to host health education sessions in their communities, improving access to and use of life-saving reproductive health and family planning services. Without your support, this groundbreaking work would not have been possible!
With generous support from GlobalGiving donors and the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan (MSIA) has, after weeks of preparation, begun training religious leaders' wives to serve as sexual and reproductive health champions in their communities.
To prepare for the training, MSIA collaborated with the Sisters’ Directorate of Ministry of Religious Affairs to develop and finalize a curriculum about family planning and reproductive health for the religious leaders’ wives. Religious advisors also instructed the female health educators on how best to train and empower the wives to act as facilitators within their communities.
After comprehensive preparation and orientation, religious leaders and provincial coordinators helped MSIA in identifying ten trainees as community champions in Balkh and Herat provinces. The training commenced on September 13, 2012. The women are currently being trained in their homes on an individualized basis by expert health educators from MSIA’s clinics. It is anticipated that the ten women, who will receive a volunteer stipend, will disseminate essential information on sexual and reproductive health and nutrition to 720 females from the selected communities.
The newly trained sexual and reproductive health champions are already starting to spread awareness by distributing referral cards in their communities to refer clients to clinics. MSIA clinic staff will monitor the client flow in the clinics and collect information on the number of referrals and first time users of family planning methods. MSIA team believes that this project will increase access to sexual and reproductive health services, particularly among youth and newly married couples.
On behalf of MSIA, we thank you for supporting this lifesaving and innovative project. We will continue to update you in the coming months as the training progresses!
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