Family Planning and Child spacing for quality life

Meeting Family Planning Needs in Democratic Republic of the Congo

 {Photo credit: MSH.}Anifa with three of her children.Photo credit: MSH.
At 34 years old, Anifa has already given birth 14 times. Women like Anifa, with too many, poorly-spaced pregnancies, are at a dramatically higher risk of serious health outcomes—including death. While Anifa has survived, six of her children have died before reaching age five.
Unfortunately, situations like Anifa’s are common in Sud Kivu Province in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where she lives. Information about contraceptive methods is hard to come by in her rural community of Minova, and large families are the cultural norm. In 2012, the number of people choosing a family planning method was just 83 people.
In April 2012, family planning education arrived in this community, through the USAID-funded DRC-Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP). The project is working to improve the basic health conditions of the Congolese people in 80 health zones, and improving maternal and child health is one of its key focus areas.
DRC-IHP trained 30 health care providers, including members of Minova’s health management team, on family planning in relation to maternal and child health. Trained health professionals are few in this area, and family planning services are supported by community-based distribution agents (CBDAs). As part of the DRC-IHP training, local CBDAs were trained on the wide range of contraceptives available, including long-term injectable contraceptives such as Depo-Provera. Training in this particular method includes education in how to properly screen for potential users, injection techniques, and counseling for ongoing use. Methods like Depo-Provera are being increasingly chosen in rural areas because they are effective, can be used privately, and require less frequent re-supply.
For Anifa, troubled by losing so many children and wanting to prevent more pregnancies and more premature deaths, the visit from a CBDA was life-changing.
Anifa learned of the many contraceptive methods available and, in consultation with her husband, she decided to use Depo-Provera. “Now that we have access to family planning, my husband and I know how to determine how many children we want to have. I am healthy, and my youngest child, who is now two, is healthy, too.”
The results of the DRC-IHP training can be seen in the increase in adults choosing a family planning method. Since April 2012, that number has grown from 83 to 866, thanks to CBDAs and women like Anifa. She now regularly accompanies the CBDA on his rounds, telling other women how counseling in family planning has helped change her life.

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