Media centre

New health resource to improve access to family planning for women after childbirth

Interventions address health service gaps for this often overlooked group of women

Joint news release: WHO, USAID, MCHIP

A new resource for health programme managers and policy makers released today aims to improve access to family planning for women after childbirth and during the first 12 months of motherhood.

Closely-spaced and unintended pregnancies are a health risk to both mother and child: spacing pregnancies at least 2 years apart can avert 10% of infant deaths and about 1 in 5 deaths in children aged 1 to 4.

Launched at the International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, "Programming strategies for postpartum family planning" provides interventions at all levels of health care to expand access to scientifically-sound family planning methods for new mothers.

The plan identifies three critical areas of work for countries to ensure successful implementation of the strategies:

  • close tracking of postpartum contraceptive use to ensure a steady supply and distribution of contraceptives;
  • high quality, easy-to-understand informational materials about family planning options to help women and families make informed choices; and
  • health worker training of recommended practices so services are consistent with global standards of care.

Programming Strategies is being launched by WHO, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its implementing partner, the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP).

“Virtually all women who have just had a baby are not ready to have another one right away, but too often they don’t have access to family planning,” says Dr Marleen Temmerman, director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “Many women are not even aware that they can become pregnant within 12 months of giving birth.”

Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data from 27 developing countries show that 95% of postpartum women want to avoid a pregnancy for at least 2 years, yet 65% do not use contraception. In Ethiopia, a similar analysis shows 81% of postpartum women are not using any contraception.

“There are many obvious, although often missed, opportunities to inform postpartum women on their options for healthy birth spacing and offer them an effective method of contraception,” said Patricia MacDonald, Senior Technical Advisor, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, USAID. “Antenatal care givers, birth attendants, child health providers and vaccinators should all take the time to ask a woman whether she is interested in family planning to protect herself from having another pregnancy too soon. This critical window may be the only chance to offer postpartum women the information they need for safe and healthy motherhood.”

“This document demonstrates the global health community’s response to the growing demand for postpartum family planning,” according to Koki Agarwal, MCHIP Director and moderator of the launch event. “Today we call on stakeholders across the spectrum – from health extension workers to midwives, nurses, medical doctors and policy makers – to ensure that every mother, every couple, are better able to safely plan their families.”

For more information please contact:

Elisa Scolaro
WHO
Теlephone: +41 79 516 8872
E-mail: scolaroe@who.int

Colleen Barton Sutton
Тelephone: +1 703 203 7843
E-mail: colleen@redjacketpr.com

Share