Too many women in Haiti lack access to family planning. The country has the lowest modern contraceptive use in the Western Hemisphere, and unmet need for family planning in Haiti is among the highest in the world. In rural areas like Fond des Blancs, the need is even more dire. A recent study at one rural hospital found that 90% of women were not planning to become pregnant in the next year, but only half were using a modern contraceptive method.
More and more, the global health community is recognizing the importance of family planning for maternal and child health. The World Health Organization recommends at least 24 months between births to reduce risks. And a recent Devex article argued that postpartum family planning “could play a vital role in unlocking all the most pressing development priorities, such as increased access to education, economic empowerment, and food security.”
For all these reasons, St. Boniface launched our first family planning program in July with seed funding from the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation and we’re thrilled with the results so far—we’ve already served more than 350 patients and women are eager to do what’s best for their families. We’re offering family planning services to all women who receive care at the hospital, and based on current numbers, we will anticipate serving 150 patients each month, on average. Our program includes:
- Holding community focus groups identify barriers to family planning and ways to increase access;
- Creating specialized educational materials on family planning for our patient population;
- Training staff to offer family planning counseling at all prenatal and postpartum visits;
- Offering modern contraceptive methods and behavioral method counseling, so that women can choose the approach that’s right for them.
Keep an eye out for stories about women who have benefited from our family planning program.