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Apr 9, 2013

Thanks to your help, 10 health education champions have reached more than 387 women in Afghanistan!

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!

Jan 7, 2013

Thanks to your support, ten wives of religious leaders are now reproductive health champions!

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!

Sep 27, 2012

Thanks to your support, ten Afghan women are now being trained as reproductive health champions!

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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