Emergency Contraception in the spotlight at ICFP

Melissa Garcia, Sarah Rich and Elizabeth Westley

Just days after officially joining the MSH family and receiving an initial quick orientation in Medford, the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC) team headed out to Indonesia to participate in the International Conference on Family Planning. ICEC has been hosted by Family Care International (FCI) and joined MSH along with colleagues from the FCI program based in New York. All three of our staff members attended: Melissa Garcia, Sarah Rich and Elizabeth Westley. We all really enjoyed the opportunity to meet MSH staff from so many offices and felt very much a part of the MSH family.

Outreach was one of our primary goals, and to this end we had our own booth and signed up around 100 new contacts to our listservs. We also participated in training of two groups of journalists (anglophone and francophone) hosted by Population Reference Bureau, and were pleased to see that several of the journalists we spoke with published and aired accurate and favorable stories about emergency contraception (see an example from Pakistan).

On the technical front, we hosted a full-day side event with the World Health Organization, attracting around 50 experts from around the world to discuss emerging issues related to emergency contraception. We also hosted two panels on emergency contraception focused on access gaps and new research, and Elizabeth spoke on another panel related to classification of contraceptives.

Some of the key themes that emerged from our events include:

  • Community-based distribution of EC: We learned about how community-based distribution (CBD) of EC is increasing access to this contraceptive method in South Asia and what the challenges are to implementing these programs. We also discussed the feasibility of implementing CBD of EC in other settings, particularly Uganda. We see this as a key area for EC moving forward. Conferences like this one give us time to provide hands-on technical assistance and support to partners, resulting in this note from a participant: “It was a great opportunity interacting with Sarah Rich and your team during the recent ICFP in Indonesia Bali. You helped me plan how to kick start an EC program … The materials you shared with me are helping me to …design strategies on how to reach the different audiences.”
  • Demand generation of EC: Population Media Center, with whom we are partnering in DRC, presented on its positive messaging about EC in entertainment media (link). Our partners at JHU-CCP shared a new tool for generating demand for EC (link). Given that knowledge of EC remains extremely low overall, globally, we are optimistic that these efforts can increase EC awareness, although donor commitment is still inadequate.
  • Affordability of EC: Elizabeth presented findings from an ICEC study looking at the price and affordability of EC around the world. Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, EC is least affordable in Africa, particularly Francophone West Africa, and most affordable in Asia.
  • Regional and country trends on EC access: Sarah presented a big-picture view of EC access issues in Asia, showing that access is particularly lacking in the Middle East. Two other presentations also covered EC access in specific countries: (1) Trends in EC provision and use in urban Nigeria, presented by the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative; and (2) Access to EC in Malawi at public sector facilities, pharmacies and via police units (for rape survivors), presented by the University of Malawi. Additionally, Melissa and the team convened a number of meetings with partners from the DRC, including the director of the adolescent health division within the Ministry of Health, who has now included EC in their national strategic plan. Melissa provided EC training materials for FP provider training sessions to be held imminently by the Ministry of Health’s reproductive health division and CARE.
  • EC access for survivors of sexual assault: The ICEC team met with staff from the Population Council to discuss our partnership to ensure that national sexual assault treatment guidelines and protocols include EC throughout Anglophone Africa. We began preparations for a consultation we are co-hosting with Pop Council and WHO in Zimbabwe in April that will bring together key focal points from 7 countries to strategize about improving their national guidelines for post-rape care.
  • Clinical updates: WHO made two important presentations in our panels: (1) Results of WHO multi-center clinical trial showing that a dose of levonorgestrel (the same drug used in many EC pills) can safely be used repeatedly as an on-going method of contraception. (2) Results of a WHO reanalysis of clinical trials to look at whether weight and BMI affect efficacy, indicating that we do not have a strong enough evidence base to associate weight/BMI with EC effectiveness.
  • Classifying contraceptive methods: Elizabeth presented in a panel on classification of contraceptive methods, looking at questions such as how EC should be included in surveys, can it be a “current” or modern contraceptive method, and how it contributes to contraceptive prevalence rate and other indicators.

In between hosting these formal events, we organized a number of side meetings, developing next steps for moving our work forward with both new and existing partners.

ICEC achieved our goals and more at the conference! We look forward to discussing EC and the potential to work together with our new MSH colleagues.

ICFP: Four Takeaways from the International Family Planning Conference

N. Kate Cho and Fabio Castano

 {Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH}About 20 of the nearly 30 MSH staff attending the 4th annual ICFP gather for the opening ceremony.Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH

Three weeks ago, nearly 3,500 family planning researchers, program managers, and policymakers came together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss the latest research findings and best practices on family planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). It was the largest gathering of family planning enthusiasts to date.

Nearly 30 MSH staff from 8 countries attended ICFP, showcasing our health systems expertise and experiences in family planning.

Moving forward, it is clear the following four areas are critical for the international family planning community to prioritize:

  1. Youth. Youth are—and  must continue to be—at the forefront of the family planning agenda. From the historic number of youth attendees, youth involvement in conference organization and session moderation, to the engaging and illuminating technical content of oral sessions, posters, and side events, youth leadership and participation rang loud and strong throughout the three-and-a-half days. Key topics at ICFP and for the future include: innovative and effective family planning programs for youth, meaningful participation in health programming by youth, strengthening the voices of youth for family planning, and research around youth contraceptive needs, desires, and access.
  2. Country ownership. The theme of the conference, “Global Commitment, Local Action,” could not be more true: Change cannot happen without local actors driving the process for family planning achievements.
  3. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those for universal health coverage (UHC), require family planning to be part of the conversation. Family planning is integral to achieving global goals for health and development. Incorporating family planning and reproductive health in universal health coverage mechanisms can help increase access and achieve the SDGs. Increasing access to voluntary methods of quality family planning helps reduce maternal mortality, prevent child deaths, and contribute to an AIDS-free generation, and will amplify progress made in economic development, education, environmental protection, and other development arenas.
  4. Accountability. With many more countries and organizations making commitments to Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), it is critical that the global family planning community hold ourselves accountable to meeting those commitments. It is great (and somewhat easy) to make a commitment, the hard part is to follow through on them.


Join MSH and others as we continue to increase access to quality, voluntary family planning by strengthening health systems and showcase the voices of family planning, especially youth.

Alexander Hamilton: History links to the ICFP

Elizabeth Westley, director, international consortium for emergency contraception (ICEC)

Eliza Hamilton wrote of her husband, Alexander Hamilton, “Public business so filled up his time that he was compelled to do most of his studying and writing while traveling.” While I can’t claim that my airplane reading in any way compares to Hamilton outlining the Federalist Papers (written to persuade the 13 former colonies to ratify the newly drafted Constitution of the United States) while on board a sloop sailing to Albany, I do get a lot of reading done on planes. And lately, I have slowly been making my way through Ron Chernow’s very long biography of Hamilton. At over 700 pages, it is hardly a snappy read, and it adds quite a bit of weight to my carryon bags. But I’ve been fascinated by the drama of establishing America’s new system of government after the revolutionary war against Great Britain.


I first became interested in Alexander Hamilton last summer, when I stepped outside of Family Care International’s office in lower Manhattan (now MSH’s New York office) to spot an unfamiliar flag flying over the small park at Bowling Green. I learned that this was the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis – but why? It turns out every July New York celebrates the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the authors of the US Constitution, revolutionary war hero, cabinet member, and founder of our national banking and taxation systems. He was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis and moved to New York at age 17. Hence the St. Kitts and Nevis flag flying over lower Manhattan each July.

Alexander Hamilton and other early American thinkers were preoccupied with big philosophical questions about how a country should govern itself.  Should the federal government be strengthened and allowed to collect taxes, or should it remain subsumed to the power of the states? How should the large debts incurred by the states in fighting the revolutionary war be paid? Should states be allowed to maintain their own traditions and systems that were abhorrent to other states, particularly slavery? Should government be proportional or representative?

The dynamic tensions between local and national governments were very much part of the conversation at several sessions during the International Conference on Family Planning that I attended last month in Indonesia. In a panel on financing, Joyce Kyalo of the Palladium Group presented budget data that showed that when Kenya’s budgets for health were devolved from the national government to county governments (newly defined decentralized regions), absolutely no family planning commodities were purchased. Previously, the Kenyan central government had been purchasing 40% of family planning supplies, while donors purchased the balance. The lack of earmarks or guidance when budgets were devolved to counties meant that this crucial but perhaps politically unpopular line item simply was dropped at the county level. This took place in a national context that is quite favorable towards reproductive health, as Kenya’s new constitution, passed in 2010, contains the following language: “Every person has the right—(a) to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.” Clearly, national laws and guidance do not always translate well to county or state levels.

In a panel entitled Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post 2015 Era? moderated by Jonathan quick,  MSH’s President, the same issue was raised. Melissa Wanda, of the FCI program of MSH, described efforts at the county level in Kenya to monitor budgets and help communities keep their county governments accountable. Using score-cards, Melissa and her colleagues train community members to track spending and efforts focused on reproductive, maternal and child health. These advocacy efforts (known as “Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society” or MACS, and described in this video) are leading to additional commitments from both national and local governments, including changes in the way revenue is assigned to the health sector. In the same panel, speakers from Indonesia and Nigeria described their countries’ efforts to reach the poorest with universal health care, with increasing reliance on health insurance schemes and decreasing reliance on donor support.

My career in public health has been very practically focused on health systems and the introduction of new technologies, from contraceptive implants and IUDs to uterine evacuation technologies for post-abortion care to emergency contraception. Are health care workers trained? Are shelves stocked? Are services of high quality and affordable? I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about taxes, government structures, or how countries organize their health insurance schemes.  But these and other sessions at the ICFP convinced me that governmental and larger policy and funding issues are increasingly crucial as countries graduate from donor support and step up their own funding systems. Alexander Hamilton would have been very interested indeed in the question of how to fund the Sustainable Development Goals and how to ensure that the right balance is struck between national and local governments. I left the conference convinced that governance is critical to our work, and grateful that I have talented colleagues who are engaged in this critical issue. I look forward to learning more from them.

ICFP: Ensuring Access and Accountability for Family Planning through Universal Health Coverage

Beth yeager, senior principal technical advisor, rmnch

Health Systems Strengthening

(from left) Jonathan D. Quick, President & CEO, MSH, moderates the UHC and family planning (FP) access and accountability conversation with panelists: Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda; Tira Aswitama, National Program Associate for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia; Kayode Afolabi, Director Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020; John Skibiak, Director, RHSC; Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, MSH Kenya.Photo: Matt Martin/MSH

(from left) Jonathan D. Quick, President & CEO, MSH, moderates the UHC and family planning (FP) access and accountability conversation with panelists: Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda; Tira Aswitama, National Program Associate for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia; Kayode Afolabi, Director Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020; John Skibiak, Director, RHSC; Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, MSH Kenya.Photo: Matt Martin/MSH

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services figure prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is not surprising that The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) maintained important focus on these topics, including through the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) auxiliary event, “Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?” on January 27. Co-sponsored by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the event featured an illustrious group of panelists giving their perspectives on UHC, while exploring the intersection of health financing policy and accountability as countries move into universal access for family planning.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH, moderated the conversation and perhaps stated it best: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that getting family planning into national policies is critical.”

Panelists—representatives of the ministries of health of Uganda and Nigeria, international agencies and initiatives, and implementing partners—commented on progress thus far towards UHC, and specifically, incorporation of SRH services into UHC plans and strategies, as well as the challenges faced to date. It was interesting to hear the same common requirements for success–leadership and commitment, funding UHC, and data—mentioned by all panelists, regardless of their role in UHC implementation.


National governments have an obvious role in leading implementation of UHC efforts, but their role as leaders also extends to ensuring that accountability frameworks are built into UHC implementation strategies. Likewise, international agencies and global initiatives must provide leadership in the global community on accountability for UHC both in terms of providing guidance as to what that means at various levels, and especially in terms of practical approaches to ensuring accountability. Finally, implementing partners have a role to play in leading civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to SRH services.

Ensuring universal access to family planning and reproductive health requires the commitment of all stakeholders. Governments must commit both to being accountable and to holding others accountable for the established goals of the UHC efforts.  Similarly, international agencies and global initiatives must commit to the same.  Finally, civil society organizations also must commit to ensuring that their constituents understand their rights and who is accountable for what in their settings.


Funding for UHC in general, and more specifically for implementation of accountability frameworks, was raised as a concern by all panelists. Implementation of UHC strategies will likely require additional investment and all stakeholders should be accountable for ensuring cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiencies in investments. Said Dr. Quick: “If a country just wants a family planning service, the more a country’s commitment, the more it is going to cost. But if you are supporting the whole health system, family planning pays for itself.”


Finally, there was a general recognition that without visible, transparent data there is little hope of holding anyone accountable for outcomes. To guarantee universal access to family planning and reproductive health, effective processes and systems for acquiring, analyzing, reporting, and using data for decision making are essential.

There continues to be much debate regarding the best way to ensure that sexual and reproductive health rights and family planning are included as countries forge ahead in pursuit of UHC, but the benefits of their inclusion are undeniable.  Anyone who cares about sexual reproductive health rights and access to family planning needs to be involved in these discussions from step one.

Post updated February 10, 2016.

Implementing Best Practices at the International Conference on Family Planning

Sarah Bittman, Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) Project

I was eager to participate in an entire Implementing Best Practices (IBP) track at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, last week. In July of 2015, in partnership with the IBP Initiative, the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project ran a one-day workshop at the West African Health

credit; Sarah Bittman

credit; Sarah Bittman

Organization Forum on Good Practices in Health in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. The subject of the workshop was systematic scale up approaches and how they have been used to bring some successful family planning activities to scale in the field. We gave participants hands-on practice applying tools to actual case studies and analyzing how to prepare for scale up. At ICFP, we led a similar workshop to give participants a chance to see how systematic approaches to scale up have been used in the field.

The IBP Initiative is a partnership of 46 member organizations that aims to identify, implement, and scale up effective practices and facilitate knowledge-sharing to increase access to information and resources and foster collaboration among partners and the broader family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) community. The IBP track at ICFP included a range of sessions and interactive workshops where experts shared their thoughts and experiences from the field on scaling up effective health practices, using strategic planning tools, assuring human rights, integrating FP services into existing programs, and adopting high impact practices, among other topics. There were lively discussions and debates at many of these events, and participants raised some important questions. Some overarching themes emerged from the many panels and workshops over the four day conference.

Here are my six key takeaways about scaling up from ICFP:

  1. I heard again and again over the course of many sessions and workshops that government ownership is key for scale up to be successful. Institutionalization of successful programs and effective practices into the health system (vertical scale up) is absolutely essential for sustainability. To make this happen, government needs to be involved, because often a change in policy (e.g. to allow task shifting) or training curriculum (e.g. to train providers on youth-friendly FP services) is required. Beyond that, sustainability often requires a budget line item to be able to implement the scaled-up program (e.g. with materials, equipment, vehicles, and capacity building).” If you don’t get it into national and district level budgets, it remains words on paper,” said one participant. And this can take time! For instance, Dr. V Chandra-Mouli of the World Health Organization spoke about scaling up a sexuality education program in Nigeria. The NGOs and local partners involved in the pilot refused to scale it up until the inter-sectoral government signed off on it – a process that took 6 years.
  1. Engage all your stakeholders, including potential opponents. Reach out to community actors and faith leaders to bring them into the conversation. This is especially true of programs that seek to overcome social stigma or long-held misconceptions about sensitive subjects such as family planning. If the faith leaders in a community are onboard with messaging about birth spacing, a program is more likely to succeed.
  1. In addition to the results and outcome data we are already collecting, we need more and better documentation of scale up processes, so we can learn from one another about what works and what does not work. For example, how have others ensured that quality remained high as they scaled up programs or integrated family planning services into other health services? Who did they engage? How did they tailor the program from the “Cadillac model” we often see in donor-funded pilots to something more sustainable in the long term? The more we know about the implementation of scale up, the better we can plan for it in the future.
  1. Following a systematic approach to scaling up helps you avoid missing important steps. Looking at the Guide to Fostering Change, the ExpandNet Nine steps for developing a scaling up strategy, and Beginning with the end in mind can help you plan carefully for scale up, even before you start a pilot. These tools help you to consider both horizontal and vertical scale up, and how you can plan to monitor and evaluate the program throughout the scale up process.
  1. It is important to look at a few critical high impact practices and adopt them to a certain extent – but not to take them all on at once. If at the national level the leadership does not know where to start on reform, a prioritization process can help identify which activities would be most feasible and have the most impact.
  1. Good planning and strategy are important (see point 4), but also critical is good management of the implementation itself. Scale up does not happen in a day, it takes time. Even with a strong strategy, the change team must be able to adapt to new circumstances, continue to engage stakeholders throughout the process, and document the scale up.

LMG | Best Practices for Family Planning

Jason Wright, Senior Director, Project Implementation

Health Programs Group (HPG)

The Fourth International Conference on Family Planning (2016 ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, 25-28 January 2016, calls for “Global Commitments, Local Actions.” It is co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health & the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).

On Tuesday, the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project hosted an auxiliary event on Leadership and Management Best Practices for Family Planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

Jono Quick, Chief Executive Officer of the LMG Project’s lead partner Management Sciences for Health (MSH), provided welcoming remarks. Jono told the story of a Kenyan midwife named Victor Omido, who, after participating in the L+M+G for Midwives Course, nearly doubled the number of deliveries with skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in his clinic. The LMG Project has supported thousands of health workers like Victor around the world.

I provided opening remarks in my roles as outgoing LMG Project Director and incoming Health Programs Group (HPG) Senior Director, Project Implementation, at MSH. USAID has partnered with MSH on six consecutive iterations of this project:

  • Family Planning Management Training (FPMT): 1985-1990
  • Family Planning Management Development (FPMD) I: 1990-1995
  • Family Planning Management Development (FPMD) II: 1995-2000
  • Management and Leadership (M&L): 2000-2005

Leadership, Management, and Sustainability (LMS): 2005-2010

Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG): 2011-2016

The USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health (PRH) has continuously hosted the projects, however, as the project mandate has expanded from management to leadership and now governance, funding from the Office of HIV/AIDS (OHA) under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) for vulnerable populations has come to roughly equal the funding from PRH.

The purpose of the event was to hear stories – from MSH, from three of our partners, and from USAID as our funder – of how our tools and approaches have positively impacted family planning, youth, women in general, and women with disabilities in particular.

Long-time MSH Senior Organizational Development Advisor Barbara Tobin joined MSH in 1992. In her remarks, Barbara stressed the need to go beyond training people to forming and reforming systems since “a bad system will defeat individuals.” She used the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle to describe how MSH addresses the interlocking pieces of systems. She described the evolution of our Leadership Development Program (LDP) to the Leadership Development Program-Plus (LDP+) and the Virtual Leadership Development Program (VLDP). She described the country examples of Egypt, Nepal, and Kenya – noting the sustainability of the LDP approach even after MSH leaves a country as was the case in Nepal. Nepalese colleagues have adapted the LDP to the Results Oriented LPD (ROLDP) and continue to use approaches developed two decades ago to solve challenges.

MSH Global Technical Lead, Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Fabio Castaño described his experience as a doctor in Peru. Fabio never received management training and relied upon MSH resources including the Family Planning Manager. He described his experience since joining MSH providing technical support in countries from Bolivia and Guatemala in Latin America to Cameroon and Uganda in Africa. He cited the positive results of LDP+ on postpartum family planning (PPFP) as demonstrated by a collaborative study between the LMG and Evidence to Action (E2A) Projects. He used the metaphor of a Rubik’s Cube to describe how MSH takes into consideration how each intervention affects the system as a whole.

International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) Co-Founder and Vice Chair of Administration Jillian Gedeon mentioned the collaboration between the LMG Project and IYAFP in the youth preconference. Jillian used the metaphor of an airport information desk to describe our project’s “awesome team.” She described how IYAFP had originated at the 3rd ICFP in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She noted how the LMG Project has provided IYAFP comprehensive technical support from legal registration to financial management to resource mobilization including grant writing.

Emerging Leaders Foundation Founder and Executive Director Caren Wakoli of Kenya described her mentorship of Trocaire Technical Officer Europe Maalim of Somalia under the East African Women’s Mentoring Network, supported by the LMG Project. She described how their collaboration has resulted in scholarships for 20 young girls and how Europe is now pursuing advanced studies in Liverpool. She described how she and Europe have learned from one another with her background in media and political science and Europe’s training in family planning and reproductive health. Caren used the metaphor of a key to describe how their mentoring relationship has unlocked doors. This mentoring relationship is one of dozens of relationships in the Women’s Mentoring Network. The LMG Project is ensuring the sustainability of the Mentoring Network by transitioning its ownership to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) African Regional Office (ARO).

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) Program Manager Suz Dunn described the “amazing partnership” since 2012 between the LMG Project and the Women’s Institute for Leadership and Disability (WILD). Suz used the metaphor of a trampoline to describe the LMG Project’s support for creating their facilitators’ guide. Since 1997, seven WILD programs have trained and empowered women from 80 countries as part of its “transformational, powerful experience.” She described how WILD increases the pride (with community parades and photo exhibits), builds the confidence (with whitewater-rafting, ropes-climbing, and swimming), and improves the public speaking of women with disabilities. She cited the WILD music video “Loud, Proud, and Passionate.” She highlighted the importance of the LMG Project’s support in helping WILD women develop action plans for implementation after they return to their countries.

Finally, USAID Private Sector Team Lead Maggie Farrell provided summary comments. Maggie served as the Agreement Officer’s Representative (AOR), i.e., Project Manager, for the LMG Project’s predecessor projects and helped design the current project. She described how the MSH Challenge Model empowers users, and how MSH pioneered blending learning and online platforms including LeaderNet. She described her work in the Philippines before joining USAID and how she, like Fabio, “would wait for her Family Planning Manager to arrive.” She highlighted the work of MSH in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan, describing how MSH’s leadership and management training has been unique among implementing partners in enabling sustainable NGOs in Latin America, thanking MSH for its 30+ years of implementing the projects.

This event was the first in a series of the LMG Project’s dissemination events to showcase not just the five years of this project but the 30+ years of all six projects. The LMG Project has conducted a tools inventory and is developing an evidence compendium, both of which will be available soon. In the meantime, download our two newest resources:


Implementing Best Practices (IBP) Track at ICFP – Day 1

Sarah Bittman, Senior Technical Officer

Leadership, Management, and GOvernance (LMG) Project

Key takeaways from sessions and workshops with country experiences:

o   Government involvement from an early stage is important for scale up, particularly vertical scale up (integration) as there is often a policy shift that needs to happen, and resources and other support that is critical to secure for long-term sustainability

  • Focusing on partnership with the government enhances political will and leads to greater and sustainable impact

    Credit; M. Martin

    Credit, M. Martin

o   Tools that have been designed to lay out systematic approaches to scale up are especially useful, because following a framework will help us not to leave something important behind, for example engaging stakeholder participation

o   Some effective practices that I heard about today that have been successfully scaled up in the field include: youth-friendly services in Ethiopia, integration of FP services into child immunization service provision in India (to provide FP methods to mothers while they were at the clinic already with their kids, so they don’t need to make a separate trip), and integration of family planning into post-abortion care in Tanzania and task shifting/training of other types of providers so that time is not lost on referrals and transport to hospitals when women need immediate care.

We all hear about pilots that seem promising or successful but then don’t go anywhere – if there isn’t focused planning from the outset on how scale-up should happen and who to engage to expand the set of practices (horizontal scale up) while also institutionalizing it from the government level to the point of delivery (vertical scale up), a lot of good investments will be wasted, and effective FP practices that could make a difference for a lot of people will not reach those who could really benefit from them.


International Conference on Family Planning Opening Ceremony

tuesday, january 26

jason wright, project director, leadership, management and governance (LMG) Project

On Monday afternoon, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially opened the 4th International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia.  The conference theme is “Global Commitments, Local Actions.”  President Widodo presented Global Humanitarian Awards for Women’s and Children’s Health to:

New CIFF Executive Director, Health Alvaro Bermejo accepted the award on behalf of Sir Christopher.  I had the pleasure of working for Alvaro when he was Executive Director and I was U.S. Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (MSH partners with the AIDS Alliance under the USAID Grant Management Solutions [GMS] and Leadership, Management, and Governance [LMG] Projects).   Alvaro stated that children should be able to not only survive but thrive and women should be able to decide whether and when to have children.  He described Adolescents 360, a $30 million initiative co-funded by CIFF and the Gates Foundation to increase the use of modern, voluntary contraceptives by girls in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.  Adolescents 360 partners include Population Services International (PSI) and IDEO.org.

MSH Staff at the ICFP Opening Ceremony (l to r: Uzaib Saya, Jill Keesbury, Brigid Boettler, Sherri Haas) credit: M. Martin

MSH Staff at the ICFP Opening Ceremony (l to r: Uzaib Saya, Jill Keesbury, Brigid Boettler, Sherri Haas)
credit: M. Martin

Melinda French Gates (by video) and Gates Foundation Global Development Program President Christopher Elias reiterated the Gates Foundation announcement in November 2015 that the foundation will invest an additional $120 million (a 25% increase) in family planning programs over the next three years.  Ms. Gates stated:

Three years ago, the global community set an ambitious goal.  More than that, we made a promise. A promise to 120 million women and girls that by 2020 they would have access to family planning services and contraceptives if they wanted it.  Since we made that promise, millions of unintended pregnancies have been avoided and thousands of lives saved.  But the hard truth is, that to keep it, we must do more, and we must act now.  We have it in our power to give every woman, every girl, everywhere, the opportunity of a healthy, prosperous life – for herself, her family, and her community

Dr. Elias stated, “We’re falling behind.  We need to act smarter.  We need to act together.  And, above all, we need to act now.”

Ms. Gates and Dr. Elias indicated that the additional funding will focus on three priority areas:

  1. Improving the quality of services and the range of contraceptive options that women receive
  2. Reaching the most marginalized with contraceptives and services, particularly the urban poor
  3. Supporting the work of local advocates who are making the case for budgets, policies, and programs that ensure more women and girls can access contraceptives

U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Babatunde Osotihemin made two speeches, one for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the other for himself.  Mr. Ban variously described family planning as a human right, a key unlocking untold opportunities, and one of the best investments.  Dr. Osotihemin described family planning as a “pathway out of poverty.”  He stated, “we have made some progress, but it is not enough.”  Dr. Osotihemin noted that sustainability would come not from the Gates Foundation or donors but from countries themselves.  He stated, “countries must step up and look after their own.”  He quoted a Nepalese colleague, “we cannot prevent earthquakes; we can prevent pregnancies.”

Youth speaker Margaret Bolaji, Associate Researcher, Population and Reproductive Health Initiative in Northern Nigeria, concluded the opening ceremony.  Ms. Bolaji told inspiring stories of women affected by fistula and early marriage among other issues.  She discussed the growth of the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP).  The LMG Project has been proud to provide technical support to IYAFP.  On Tuesday morning, IYAFP Co-Founder and Vice Chair for Administration Jillian Gedeon made an outstanding panel presentation at an LMG auxiliary event on Leadership and Management Best Practices for Family Planning.

Special Event: Wednesday, January 27

Join us: Universal access to family planning, Jan. 27, 2016

Universal Access to Family Planning & Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
07:00 – 08:20
Legian 8+9
Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center

Breakfast will be provided.

Universal health coverage and access represents a platform to advance family planning and the FP2020 goals. However, stewardship from the public sector is critical. Speakers will explore the intersection of financing, policy, and accountability as countries move into universal access for Family Planning in the new post-2015 era.


Jonathan D. Quick, President and CEO, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)


Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda
Kayode Afolabi, Director, Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria
Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020
John Skibiak, Director, Reproductive, Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC)
Tira Aswitama, NPA for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia
Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), Kenya

More events >>

Photo: Donald Bason

Join MSH in Nusa Dua, Indonesia January 25-28

Please join Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and our partners during these featured events at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, January 25-28, 2016, including a special panel to discuss “Universal Access to FP and RH: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?,” round tables on leadership and smart governance, plus workshops and sessions.

MSH is a leader in strengthening health systems. Maternal, newborn, and child and adolescent health is the integrating theme that extends across MSH’s work to strengthen health systems for greater health impact. All of our projects address the needs of women and children. By strengthening each level of the health system—including national, district, community, and household—we are able to improve availability of access to high quality services and commodities for women, babies and children. We are able to improve availability of access to high quality services and commodities across the continuum of care which includes family planning, pre-pregnancy to delivery, the immediate postnatal period and childhood, as well as promoting health for women across the reproductive health span.

Follow live updates on this blog and on Twitter with #ICFP2016, #YouthICFP2016

Visit us in the exhibition hall at booth 31!