Nearly half of pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the World Health Organization. As a result, Filipina women have larger families than they desire, and often can afford, and pregnancies in closer succession, which increases health risks to both mother and child.
Fortunately, 87 Muslim women in the remote islands of Tawi-Tawi now have greater access to culturally appropriate family planning methods as well as quality health facilities and services.
What made the difference? The USAID-funded Sustainable Health Improvement through Empowerment and Local Government (SHIELD) project, which works to increase women’s access to family planning counseling and services.
Culturally Appropriate Counseling, Services
To help ensure that the family planning initiative met the women’s needs and was culturally appropriate, SHIELD-trained community health action teams first met with the women themselves.
The staff organized information sessions in the Tawi-Tawi villages so the women could learn and ask questions about a full range of family planning methods and staff could learn more about their needs and concerns. Tawi-Tawi is located in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Following the information sessions, the teams connected interested women to rural midwives for more information and counseling.
Of the 87 mothers served in early December, 36 chose the birth control method of bilateral tubal ligation (commonly known as getting one's "tubes tied") and 51 women chose other family planning methods.
Local Hospitals Offer Sustainable Family Planning Options
With our partner Helen Keller International, ACDI/VOCA also worked with the U.N. Population Fund and the Philippines Provincial Health Office to train three teams, which were assigned to hospitals most used by the women, to ensure that bilateral tubal ligation continues to be available to the Tawi-Tawi women.
SHIELD staff also worked with the Philippines Rotary Club and Philippine Nurses Association to ensure that family planning logistics and supplies are available in area health centers.
Pictured at top left: Community action health teams provide women in the Philippines family planning counseling.