Family Planning Use in East Africa

Family Planning Use in East Africa

Family planning (FP) is critical in the promotion of community health. It is an intervention that is proven to save lives and foster development. Research supports the notion that family planning is directly linked to improvement in maternal and child health in addition to socio-economic progress. Understanding the unmet need for family planning services is key to improving worldwide reproductive health. During the last three decades in East Africa, research shows that Kenya and Rwanda are clear leaders in regards to access to and use of contraception. These two countries have a history of implementing targeted and focused programs to improve access to FP services. FP differs in each country in ways such as the amount of methods offered and the extent to which each method is available. Across the sub-region there is an increase in the use of modern contraceptives. But, a steady proportion of women in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania are still using traditional methods. While short-term contraception is frequent in the sub-region, there is...
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California Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill

California Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill

Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a bill that would have required all health centers at University of California and California State University schools to offer prescription abortion pills. Introduced in February 2017, Senate Bill 320 would have made California the first state to require access to medication abortion at public universities. Medication abortion was approved by the FDA in 2000, and currently accounts for one-third of abortions in the United States. A combination of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, allows the patient to undergo the procedure in their own home. In spite of years of research deeming the procedure safe, thirty-four states heavily regulate medication abortion by requiring licensed physicians, rather than midwives or nurse practitioners, to administer the drugs. In spite of living in a state with otherwise progressive abortion legislation, women at public universities in California often have restricted access to abortion options. More than 500 women at California's public universities seek the abortion pill at off-site healthcare providers every...
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Notes from the Field: “If only I stepped up to the gate of a school” life could have been better

Reproductive health remains a health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya included. Unless efforts to reduce maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity, improving access to family planning, and preventing HIV infection are scaled up, the majority of Kenyans remain at risk for poor health outcomes. Women face unsafe abortions, early marriage, and various forms of gender-based violence. They suffer silently from sexually transmitted diseases that make them vulnerable to cervical cancer and infertility, without access to the simple preventive measures like screening and vaccination. My experience working directly in the community and in health facilities has given me the opportunity to interact with various partners and many disadvantaged young men and women. Listening to their stories of teenage pregnancy, their beliefs in myths related to use of contraception, and experiences with HIV has made me keen to understand and try to address issues related to reproductive health. I met "Aisha" (not her real name) when her child was enrolled in a study I...
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So… what are you going to do about it?

So… what are you going to do about it?

I’m currently in Amansie West, Ghana as part of a team conducting research on the barriers and facilitators to family planning use and the role community health workers play in family planning uptake. During this time, I was invited to attend Ghana Health Service’s first National Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Conference by Millennium Promise,  a co-sponsor of the conference and our collaborator in country. The collaboration with Millennium Promise first began back in September when Chief Nat Ebo Nsarko, the Country Director visited Duke University. From the beginning this team has been our guide for conducting research in Ghana through assisting us in each task and facilitating our learning experience. It is through their contributions and dedication which have allowed this research to not only be possible but successful. The theme of the conference was “Strengthening Partnerships for Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Nutrition.” Gladys Ghartey (Head of UN System Unit at...
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The Value of Big Data for Family Planning

The Value of Big Data for Family Planning

While the use of modern methods of contraception are now commonplace in many countries, one-third of women in developing countries who begin using a modern method of contraception quit within the first year and half quit within two years[i]. Most discontinuation occurs among women who want to avoid pregnancy putting them at risk for unwanted pregnancies, maternal morbidity and mortality[ii]. Traditional measures of contraceptive use are collected retrospectively from population representative surveys conducted only every five years which are not well-suited to measuring contemporary trends in contraceptive discontinuation. This is problematic because advocates and health ministries cannot address concerns in a reasonable amount of time to impact widespread change. "Big Data" can supplement these static sources by providing dynamic, real time tracking of the reasons women discontinue using contraceptives and open up possibilities to prevent discontinuation or help facilitate switching between methods. So what exactly is "Big Data" and how can it supplement traditional reproductive health data? Big data is commonly thought...
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