Integrating Reproductive Health into NGO Programs: Safer Motherhood


A step-by-step handbook to assist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in helping communities ensure safer motherhood through presenting information and tools to assess, organize, and implement safer motherhood strategies that complement existing community health programs.

Initiatives Inc. and in partnership with The Linkages Project. The Safer Motherhood handbook is composed of a prologue entitled “Understanding Safe Motherhood”, and six “Action Steps” designed to help guide NGO managers in deciding whether, and how, to integrate safe motherhood services. The steps are “Assessing Community Needs”, “Deciding Whether to Integrate”, “Preparing Program Strategies”, “Measuring Program Results”, “Using Resources Effectively”, and “Promoting Financial Sustainability”. Each step covers essential decision-making and program management guidance; examples of how the steps have been handled by other organizations; a case study to highlight and reinforce major points; and worksheets to guide users in designing an integrated program. The handbook may be used either for self-guided study and reference or as the basis for a facilitated workshop.

Developed by:
Initiatives Inc., in partnership with The Linkages Project, field-tested the handbook in Lusaka, Zambia in October 1999, with 11 health and non-health related NGOs, in a 4 ½ day Safe Motherhood Integration Workshop. To establish local expertise, facilitators from local projects, i.e. Linkages and the Zambian Integrated Health Package (ZIHP), participated as workshop facilitators. There were 22 participants from NGOs implementing community development, loan, sponsorship, and health and AIDS projects in Zambia. As per the design of the workshop, a senior management representative and a ‘hands-on’ field-level worker from each NGO attended. Twenty program managers and officers representing 10 community development NGOs from Zambia participated in the field test. Workshop participants produced concept papers for integrating safer motherhood into their various programs.

Since the field-test the handbook has been used by NGOs and cooperating agencies to guide safer motherhood integration in regional and national workshops for countries throughout Asia and Africa.

Intended Users:
NGO managers and program officers or anyone seeking guidance for integrating family planning into existing program activities. The handbook can be used at the local, regional or central level.

The Safer Motherhood handbook is designed specifically for NGO managers and program officers; however, anyone seeking guidance for integrating safer motherhood practices into existing program activities will find the handbook a useful reference. The handbook can be used at the local, regional or central level.

The Safer Motherhood handbook is designed specifically for NGOs. It assists NGOs already working in communities to expand their services and better the quality of health and life in those communities. Furthermore, the handbook also focuses on NGO-community collaboration. It assists NGOs through the important process of mobilizing communities to help in program design and service provision, promoting more sustainable programs. The Safer Motherhood handbook is comprehensive and written in clear, simple language; the layout and format are user friendly. “Experiences from the Field” provide examples of successes; “Worksheets” enhance learning transfer by simplifying adaptation and facilitating design; and the “Case Study” stimulates analysis.

The handbook contains comprehensive guidance for planning and program design, and requires the users to engage in thoughtful review and consideration of the content to maximize its benefits.

Recommendation for Users:
The Safer Motherhood handbook is an excellent tool for local or international NGOs that are considering expanding their services to include safer motherhood initiatives. Even NGOs, that are already providing safer motherhood services but are encountering difficulties, will find the issues presented and steps provided in the handbook useful for restructuring and improving their programs.

Reports and Publications:
Bjerregaard, Donna. Integrating Safe Motherhood. Reproductive Health Integration Issues. Initiatives, Inc. Volume 1, Number 3: October, 1998.

English. Printed versions of the handbook are available, at no charge, in limited quantities. Organizations and individuals are asked to pay for shipping charges.

Melissa Chalmers
Initiatives, Inc.
376 Boylston Street, Suite 4C
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: 617/ 262-0293