COVID-19 regulations can limit both patients and health providers, curbing people’s ability to access short-term contraception—and making long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) much more desirable.
That’s why Ipas Southern Africa Region’s LARC Public-Private Partnership Project is making an impact. First started as an emergency response during initial COVID-19 lockdowns, the project is expanding access to sexual and reproductive health services with a focus on contraceptives, especially LARC. The project recognizes the need for the public and private health sectors to collaborate on service provision and training, so that women have more options to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
“I opted for Implanon for my family planning, as it lasts for 3 years of unwanted pregnancy protection. I got all the information I needed, and even more—it was very helpful. I will recommend that they keep implementing this program so that every woman who can’t afford Implanon can come here to get it. Women in rural areas should also be able to access these services.”
Client at clinic in Limpopo
In partnership with public health institutions and private providers in the region, Ipas Southern Africa Region is using these key strategies:
Recruit private-sector providers
- In June 2020, Ipas started recruiting private-sector providers and pharmacies in Limpopo, Gauteng, Free State and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa to participate in a program that supports women’s and girls’ access to Implanon and intra-uterine devices, plus short-term contraceptive options, at little or no cost to them.
- To date, over 2,000 women and girls aged 12-51 have received a contraceptive method through the program.
Train public- and private-sector health-care workers
- Ipas helped develop the National Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) training package, using it to train public- and private-sector health providers on SRHR.
- Following the trainings, Ipas collaborates with providers from national and regional departments of health to jointly supervise and mentor graduates of the training program.
Collect client feedback
- Ipas contacts clients after they receive services and collects feedback to assess their level of satisfaction and determine how much they paid to access the service at private facilities.
- First follow-up is at one week after receiving the service, and then again at three and six months to ensure clients are still satisfied with their contraceptive method.
- This feedback informs efforts to improve service quality.
- Ipas works with regional public health institutions to help train their community engagement teams on SRHR outreach. These teams conduct health education at schools, clinics, and door-to-door visits and ensure people know how to access SRHR services if needed.
- So far Ipas has trained 61 community engagement team members on SRHR outreach focused on contraception, safe abortion and gender-based violence.
- Ipas will further support the National Department of Health communications team on ensuring that SRHR information is available to the public through various mediums.
“Lister Clinic had a great opportunity to work with Ipas in provision of LARC methods so that women and girls can manage their fertility for a longer period. Through the training and support by Ipas, we changed the lives of many disadvantaged women and girls. We will continue to provide these services without failure, as we are competent and confident through the skills and support provided to us.”
Private-sector health provider