Lusaka, 13th December 2011: Our Zambia programme has expanded its rural outreach service, bringing family planning services to seven new districts in the country.
Two thirds of the Zambian population live in the sparsely populated countryside. In these rural areas women often have to travel over 10km to access their nearest health clinic and on arrival can find that contraceptive supplies have run out.
Our rural outreach model enables us to offer services to some of the most hard to reach and under-served communities so they can make informed choices from a full range of contraceptive methods.
Rural outreach: a provider’s perspective
Mukanga Sindazi leads our mobile outreach team in Zambia’s central province. He and the team work six days a week taking family planning services to communities across the region.
“We use promoters to spread the word about our services. And we visit at regular times so people know when to expect us,” said Sindazi.
Every other Wednesday afternoon, his team visits Waya, a small fishing village, 45 miles from the nearest town. Women travel up to two hours on foot and on bicycles from the surrounding communities to attend.
Breaking barriers to family planning
Each visit opens with a talk from the outreach team where they go through the range of family planning methods available. It’s an opportunity to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each method and to counter some of the widespread misconceptions women have about family planning.
“One of our biggest challenges is the stories that are going around about family planning methods. I meet women who are worried about having the implant because they’ve heard stories.
“We have to talk to them and tell them about the benefits and drawbacks of various methods. And we show them examples of other family planning users in their community.”
“There are always a lot of questions after group counselling. We bring along props and pictures to help women understand the information we are giving them. And we hand round different methods so that women can touch them and see them for themselves.
“Women who can get to this clinic easily like the injectable – they don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. Those women who have further to travel often choose a longer term method.”
Increasing delivery out of centre
Elizabeth, and Malorie both come regularly to the clinic for the injectable. Elizabeth, who is 18, walks for an hour from her home, with her baby on her back to attend. She used to get the pill from a government clinic, but experienced side-effects and found it difficult to remember to take it – “the injectable is much easier for me.”
“I live close by so it’s convenient” said Malorie, 25, who has five children. Married at 10, she had her first child when she was 13. It was after the birth of her third child that she and her husband decided to think about family planning to space the births of their children. “The injection means I can easily choose when I have another child.”
On a typical outreach visit, the team see up to 60 women like Elizabeth and Malorie. For some women, the team’s visits mean they have a wider choice of family planning methods. For others, they bring access to contraception for the very first time.
Download our ‘Increasing family planning access and choice’ report now
Find out more about our work in Zambia