Maryline has been building the capacity of health workers on short and long term methods of family planning since 2006 in six different countries in east and west Africa. Additionally,she has implemented innovative community educational approaches to improve uptake of services and ensured male involvement on family planning programs. In 2015 she conducted her dissertation research in Wau, South Sudan to understand male community health workers perceptions on family planning programs and how they affected uptake of services. Findings from the study have been used to revise the community health strategy. Furthermore she has shared evidence internationally and locally on strategies that worked in south Sudan to improve acceptance of family planning services.
I have grown up in Kenya in a rural community where access to family planning information was rare. Adults rarely discussed family planning issues with the young or educated them.Lack of information resulted in young girls and women getting unwanted pregnancies, dropping out of school or not spacing their children. To change this situation i felt i had to take a lead in educating the community at large and clarify any misconceptions regarding family planning.
The biggest challenge i face is from health workers and community health workers who silently do not support family planning due to own misconceptions. For example in my recent assignment i realized that male community health workers did not make efforts to educate the community on family planning because they felt it will prevent women in their communities from giving birth. Changing perceptions of some health workers and community members has been slow.
The biggest challenge in family planning is , low acceptance of family planning by men. In many families men make decisions on whether their wives should use modern contraceptives. Their misconceptions,misinformation make them discourage their wives from utilizing these methods. These challenge can be addressed by allowing men to work in family planning programs so that they can be empowered to engage other men,women,adolescents on the importance of modern contraceptives.
i would like to involve more men in community family planning programs in South Sudan and increase contraceptive use by over 98%. These men will be role models in their communities. I would build their capacity and with the support of the county health managers, provide them with contraceptives which they should be able to counsel and give to those who need including adolescents and women. Additionally i will give them health education booklets to use for health education.