Fondation Pierre Fabre

Increasing Access to Family Planning Counseling and Services

Main beneficiary countries:
Côte d’Ivoire - Mali - Cameroon - Guatemala - Mexico

About the sponsor

Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides' mission is to provide information and educational tools that help all people take greater control over their health, and work together to eliminate the underlying causes of poor health. With over 40 years of experience, Hesperian Health Guides are renowned for producing effective, practical health guides that provide clear information to inspire inclusive action, and are designed to reach those facing the greatest barriers to health.

Hesperian works collaboratively with grassroots partners, health programs, practitioners, and advocates worldwide to develop new resources, thus ensuring that information is accurate, relevant, culturally appropriate and motivating. Hesperian develops all of its materials using a gender lens. Hesperian has extensive experience creating women's health and empowerment materials, including Where Women Have No Doctor, A Book for Midwives, A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities, and its most recent Health Actions for Women : Practical Strategies to Mobilize for Change. In addition to distributing information in print formats, in recent years Hesperian has made its materials available through its HealthWiki, a mobile-friendly digital platform that is accessible even from places with limited internet access – over 6 million people from around the world accessed our online information in the past year alone, with 1.6 million using our sexual and reproductive health information.

Its award-winning Safe Pregnancy and Birth app (available in English and Spanish) has been downloaded over 276,000 times and is now used in 191 countries.

Sector: Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Country of origin: United States

The organisation has:

1
Full-Time Equivalent
2
Employees
10
Volunteers
0
Service provider

Initiative overview

Healthcare themes targeted

  • Mother and child health
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Women's and adolescent health

Stage of development:

  • Pilot project/testing/trials

Area where initiative is utilised

  • International (in several countries)

Initiative start date

  • 06/17/2019

Initiative end date

  • 06/16/2020

Financing

Financing method

  • Private (private investors, crowdfunding, philanthropy, etc.)

Economic model(s)

  • Once released, the FPC app will be free, and the maintenance cost will be low

About the initiative

Access to family planning and contraceptive services is a key indicator of sustainability and development, supporting healthy families and also enabling a way out of poverty – this is why the United Nations Sustainable Development goals include working towards universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services (FIGO, 2018). Despite impressive increases in contraceptive use worldwide (particularly in Kenya and Mozambique), there are currently 214 million women of reproductive age in the developing world who have an unmet need for contraception (Guttmacher, 2016), and they account for 84% of all unintended pregnancies, often resulting in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Francophone countries in West Africa have among the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the world, and their rates of modern contraceptive use are among the lowest.

According to FIGO, “if contraceptive services placed more emphasis on improving information and counselling related to reproductive health, then unmet need could decline substantially (2018)."

In addition, Hesperian Health Guide's formative research for the FPC app identified two main barriers hindering frontline health workers (FHWs) and peer promoters from providing quality counseling and delivery of contraceptive services – overall, FHWs felt:

(1) Discomfort and a lack of confidence in discussing birth control preferences, since this requires conversation about sex and sexuality – this was exacerbated when talking with adolescents or unmarried women.

(2) Intimidated by the detailed technical aspects of various contraception methods, and therefore unable to offer sound advice or discuss the pros and cons of each method.

Designed to address the barriers detailed above, Hesperian's Family Planning Choices (FPC) app will act as a portable, discreet, and accessible tool for FHWs and peer promoters to utilize when counseling women/ adolescents about family planning services, increasing their capacity and reducing barriers to discuss sex, sexuality, and family planning. As promoters and other community health workers are peers and often operate outside of the formal health systems, they can provide appropriate, sustainable and effective counseling that will help connect underserved and hard-to-reach adolescents and women to family planning services.

One critical and unique feature, is that the FPC app can be accessed without the use of a data plan, making it accessible to those who face economic and/or location limitations – easily downloaded onto a phone or tablet, it can be taken with a FHW or peer promoter to counsel women and adolescents, particularly in underserved and marginalized communities. It can also be shared onto women’s own devices (with smartphones more prevalent than ever in the Global South), for immediate access to accurate, discreet and unbiased family planning information.

In addition, the multi-lingual app, currently available in English, French, Spanish and Swahili (the user can choose which language they want to set the app in), can be used in different regions (Latin America, Francophone Africa, etc.) with documented needs for increased contraceptive use. The FPC app can be easily adapted to local context, will be able to be translated rapidly into even more languages (based on our deep experience with translating resources), and will easily scale globally for greater reach and impact.

Hesperian's Family Planning Choices (FPC) app acts as a portable counseling tool to support the delivery of quality contraception services by enabling frontline health workers (FHWs) and peer promoters to share unbiased information and to counsel clients about family planning and birth control options.

The FPC app content fits broadly into 3 interrelated segments :

  • an interactive “method choosing tool” to help a woman determine the best method for her based on preferences, health history, and circumstances;
  • a comprehensive description of birth control methods, the benefits and disadvantages of each method, and who should avoid using each particular method;
  • an informative and entertaining set of conversations, strategies and advice to discuss sexuality and sexual health, talking with male partners, and other sensitive topics.

Fields of application:

Telemedicine (remote diagnosis and consultations) - Information, education and communication for behaviour change (IEC)

Target audience

  • Healthcare professionals and structures (hospitals, healthcare centres/clinics, health networks)
  • women and adolescent girls

Initiative objectives

  • Decreased mortality
  • Decreased morbidity
  • Increased access to reproductive health care, which decreases mortality/morbidity

Key figures

9600 Number of beneficiaries since launch

9600 Number of users per Year

Materials used

  • Cellular (mobile) phone
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet

Technologies used

  • Mobile telecommunications (without data connection)
  • Mobile app (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, HTML5, etc.)

Offline use

Yes

Open Source

Yes

Open Data

No

Independent evaluation

No

Partners

ASKO - Mali

Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Health Alliance -- Cote D'Ivoire

Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Baptist Convention Health Board -- Cameroon

Organizational: Communities, public authorities, NGOs, associations, foundations, etc.

Partners

Collaborators

startupBrics