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.