London, 1st December 2011: As part of its new partnership agreement with Marie Stopes International, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (the Alliance) has developed a new self-assessment tool. The tool, which has been piloted in Zambia and Tanzania, aims to improve the way HIV prevention and treatment services are integrated in our family planning services.
Read more about the partnership between Marie Stopes International and the International HIV/AIDs Alliance.
Poor reproductive health and HIV infection share many root causes in poverty, gender inequality, stigma and cultural norms. Family planning and HIV programmes also share many desired outcomes in dual protection, the promotion of reproductive health and human rights for all, and a reduction in maternal, newborn and child mortality.
Integrated family planning and HIV services make sense.
Heidi Quinn, Technical Advisor for the Strengthening International Family Planning Organizations (SIFPO) project at Marie Stopes International said: “By linking HIV and family planning services we can reduce vulnerability to HIV, reduce sexually transmitted infections, and provide men and women with HIV prevention information and family planning.
“That’s why the partnership between the Alliance and Marie Stopes International is so important.”
The partnership was launched in recognition of the fact that the international community needs to accelerate progress on access to integrated family planning, maternal, newborn and child health services and make more effective the global response to the HIV epidemic, if we are to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6.
A self-assessment tool
Thanks to the USAID-funded SIFPO project, the Alliance has successfully developed and tested a self-assessment checklist in Marie Stopes International’s Zambia and Tanzania country programmes, which can eventually be rolled out across our network.
Divya Bajpai, Senior Advisor on SRH at the Alliance said: “The new tool measures the current level of HIV integration in Marie Stopes International’s and family planning services, and allows staff to develop appropriate actions based on the assessment results.”
The self-assessment tool aims to assess:
- readiness to integrate services at different levels, including the support office and various delivery points
- type and coverage of HIV services, where these have been integrated already
- quality of integrated services, from the perspective of clients and providers.
The tool enables us to better understand how well we’re integrating services, and plan how to increase the coverage and quality of integrated services. It will be used initially to understand the current situation, but can then be repeated to review progress and used as part of an ongoing system for monitoring integration and quality programming.
Pilot results in Zambia and Tanzania
The Alliance has conducted assessment visits to Marie Stopes International’s Zambia and Tanzania programmes. They visited country offices, clinics, mobile outreach teams, members of the community and clients. They also met with representatives of the National AIDS Commission (NAC) and other local partners.
In both countries, the Alliance found good examples of integration, but also a number of ways to continue improving the delivery of HIV interventions.
In Tanzania, the Alliance met Zawadi, one of our nurse midwives who is one of two team members trained to drive a bajaji or motor rickshaw in Zanzibar. The bajaji also serves as a mobile clinic providing family planning information and contraceptives to vulnerable and hard to reach communities on the island.
Divya Bajpai, who conducted the assessment, said: “We discovered that Zawadi is already providing referrals for testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission in order to support clients and ensure relevant follow-up within the community.”
“Zawadi identified that she needed more training and support around HIV and AIDS, as well as organisational support in the form of greater monitoring and supervision, and a clear strategy to help her to integrate HIV and SRH services more systematically.”
“We found that Marie Stopes International staff were committed to integration and wanted to do more at country office and clinical level.”
There were a number of recommendations, including:
- ensure clear quality indicators to measure and monitor integration
- provide training in HIV and stigma reduction within various Marie Stopes International delivery channels
- ensure there are regular supplies of HIV test kits and condoms, along with integrated SRH / HIV messaging within Marie Stopes International’s information and education campaign materials
- ensure safer sex counselling, condom demonstrations and dual protection for all family planning clients
- expand the role of community outreach workers to enable them to refer women to health settings.
To find out more about the self-assessment tool being developed for Marie Stopes International country programmes, contact Divya Bajpai or Heidi Quinn. The tool will be finalised in 2012.
For more information about the Alliance’s work on reproductive health, rights and HIV linkages, download this new Good Practice Guide.