Finding New Innovations to Addressing Family Planning

Finding New Innovations to Addressing Family Planning

Jessica Poni, midwife at the Panthou Primary Health Care Center. Photo credit: Dr. Victor Guma, PHC Advisor for MSH-SHTP II.


Jessica Poni is a midwife in Panthou Primary Health Care Center -- the only primary health care center in Aweil South County in Northern Bahr al Ghazal, South Sudan. Panthou Primary Health Care Center is managed locally by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the implementing partner of the USAID-funded Sudan Health Transformation Project (SHTP II), led by MSH.

After receiving training in Arua, Uganda, Jessica returned to her home country of South Sudan in 2011. Upon her return, Jessica realized that most mothers opted to use Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) for family planning. None of her clients used modern family planning methods. Women were fearful of modern family planning methods because they believed these methods would prevent them from giving birth in the future. In reality, the use of modern family planning methods has been proven to improve the health of the mother and the baby.

Family planning display created by Jessica Poni. Photo credit: Dr. Victor Guma, PHC Advisor for MSH-SHTP II.


To attempt to change these beliefs, Jessica created a visual display of family planning methods which she used for reference during discussions with clients at antenatal care visits, as well as with post-natal mothers and husbands who were at the facility.

She identified a husband and wife who committed to use the modern family planning methods. The husband also agreed to come to the facility and share his experience on using modern methods.

Jessica also supervises the Maternal and Child Health Workers (MCHWs) in the five Primary Health Care Units (PHCUs) where family planning counseling is provided. The MCHWs consult with Jessica if they are presented with a difficult case.

Since Jessica arrived, Tieraliet PHCU has recorded 16 new modern family planning users -- an increase from zero in the previous quarter. This number represents a big success in a community which has previously resisted modern familly planning methods.

According to Jessica, it is essential to build trust between clients and the providers in order to successfully advocate for family planning.

“You only need to sacrifice a lot of time, and provide privacy,” said Jessica. “I handle my clients with a lot of confidence and I provide privacy. You need to give the right information to clients and provide supportive counseling and they come back for revisits.”

Victoria David is Health Manager with The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Aweil South, South Sudan.