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Articles by Category for ‘Family Planning’

Burundian Community Organizer Uses US Nonprofit’s Drama as a New Tool

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

MUREMERA, BURUNDI–Jeanne d’Arc Butoyi’s phone rang on June 24, 2014. When she answered, she didn’t know she’d be talking about something that had so profoundly helped her in her life. That was the first time she talked with someone from Population Media Center.

Jean Sacha Barikumutima, who works on promotions in Population Media Center’s Burundi office, dialed her number that day as part of a random sample telephone survey he conducts each month to assess listenership and reaction to a radio drama produced by Population Media Center (PMC), a US nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education.

“When I heard her story,” says Jean Sacha,” I was so moved. Here was a woman trying to bring information and change to her community, working so hard, and our drama was helping her to make progress.”

Just a short time later, on August 28, 2014, members of the PMC-Burundi team traveled to Jeanne’s village to hear more of her story and how the PMC drama, Agashi (“Hey! Look Again!”), was impacting her.

Jeanne is Burundian and, yes, her name translates to Joan of Arc. She lives in Muremera, in the Ndava region of Cibitoke Province. She’s in her mid-30s and works as a community organizer addressing many sexual and reproductive health issues, including condom usage, family planning, and visiting health clinics.

During the interview, Jeanne described how one character in the drama, Muhorakeye, has taught men and women to go to a clinic for prenatal care instead of relying on folklore or witchcraft and how this same character’s adamant attitude that pregnant women in Burundi should eat liver, because it’s a food that’s available and packed with nutrients, has many women rethinking their refusal to eat it.

“I invite women to listen to Agashi with me, and we all listen to the show very closely. I have seven children. I invite women who don’t yet have seven children and tell them, ‘Come, listen to these messages on Agashi. Listen to the misfortune Tengenge has to go through – giving birth to so many children and not being able to feed them.’ When I used her case as an example, people really began to understand the problem.”

But it’s not just women that Jeanne finds have been impacted by the drama. She’s also using the drama to reach out to adolescents, explaining the importance of condoms, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and the risks of teenage pregnancy.

“What I like about the series is that Agashi has plenty of advice. There are plenty of lessons. There’s a community organizer on Agashi, and she teaches us a lot. She helps us with our community education and advocacy work. She teaches people even more about what I already teach, and people that didn’t used to listen to me are now convinced that they should.”

“I am one of those girls that had their first pregnancy too young,” says Jeanne. “I had her at 16 or probably younger. I was still living at my parents’ house.” Jeanne explains that she was lucky, the father stayed and helped her raise their daughter and they’re now married. But Jeanne works hard to help other girls stay in school and avoid pregnancy or disease.

Jeanne held discussion groups about Agashi with youth, and things weren’t easy or smooth. She explains that the youth began with comments like “You mothers and your questions mess with us! Things are different now than they were when you grew up!” But this didn’t dissuade Jeanne from using Agashi characters and actions to open up conversations about sex and condoms. Little by little, she says, some of them opened up.

“Later on, some of them came by to ask me for condoms because I have them. And some of them even told me what they did. Most of them have become friends of mine, and I give them advice.”

Jeanne explains that many youth now come to these discussion groups to share, one of whom is an orphan from Kayanza who lives with a foster mother in the village. When she arrived, many people talked about her, saying that “she had been with lots of boys.” Jeanne went to see her, and although the relationship began one-sided, Jeanne continued to visit her and Jeanne says that she realized she was a friend.

“She’s open to me now. I advised her to go get tested. She went to do it and, thank God, she is HIV negative. She came back to tell me that ‘It’s hard to abstain.’ I then advised her to use a condom. Today, she sensitizes the other girls, who still make fun of her condom use. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t realize the importance of condoms. More and more girls, age 14 and older, are following my advice. And often they come back to tell me thank you.”

This cascading system of information, where more and more people are informed and educated about health issues is exactly PMC’s hope. The dramas are designed to model behavior, not tell people what to do, so that the audience can discuss the different characters and actions and make decisions that are right for them.

“Jeanne’s story was so powerful,” says Jean Sacha. “She was already doing incredible work, and it’s wonderful to hear that Agashi has given her another tool to be even more effective. We need people in the communities to carry these messages if we’re going to see real change.”

“What’s at stake in the series reflects the reality of the country. It really exists,” says Jeanne. “There’s a community organizer on Agashi, and she teaches us a lot. She helps us with our community education and advocacy work. She teaches people even more about what I already teach, and people that didn’t used to listen to me are now convinced that they should.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

The rates of child births in Uganda should be of major concern

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The rates of child births in Uganda should be of major concern 

See: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/660320-the-rates-of-child-births-in-uganda-should-be-of-major-conce.html

At this year’s International Community of the Banyakigenzi Convention (ICOB), held August 2014, from Washington DC, I was one of the guest speakers.

I presented a paper titled “the impact of high population growth on youth entrepreneurship in Uganda.”

 
I elaborated the socioeconomic imperatives of Uganda’s high population growth rates and called on the Government to urgently promote family planning services nationwide.

 
My presentation was met with checks and balances by some high ranking politicians that included Hon. General Jim Muhwezi Katugugu, who echoed that he considered Uganda to be underpopulated.

 
The General Muhwezi reiterated that Uganda’s geographical size was almost the same size as that of United Kingdom, which has a population of 64.1 million, nearly twice (36.9 million) that of Uganda.

 

Indeed, I implored UK’s population density to be 264 compared Uganda’s 153 people per square kilometer, which shows Uganda to be less densely populated than UK.

 
This far, I agree with Muhwezi, who in addition, challenged the ICOB audience never to lose sight of the progress the current leadership has brought to Uganda over the last 30 years.

 
However, comparing Uganda with United Kingdom presents to us the popular puzzle of likening apples with oranges. Uganda’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita per person is $1,140 whereas Britain’s is thirty times ($35,800) more.

See: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/660320-the-rates-of-child-births-in-uganda-should-be-of-major-conce.html

No Undue Burden? What Texas’ HB 2 Means for Maria

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

No Undue Burden? What Texas’ HB 2 Means for Maria 

See: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/10/03/undue-burden-texas-hb-2-means-maria/
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that the State of Texas can now enforce HB 2, the omnibus anti-choice law that mandates that legal abortion facilities meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. HB 2was opposed as medically unnecessary-and even dangerous-by state- and national-level major medical associations. Anti-choice lawmakers claimed, against all evidence to the contrary, that HB 2 would increase the “health and safety” of Texans who seek legal abortion care.

 
The law also bans abortion after 20 weeks, and severely limits the provision of medication abortion.

 
In light of this ruling, here are the burdens women like Maria will face.

 
Maria* is a representative 26-year-old woman living in Harlingen, Texas, who finds herself pregnant. She is unable to have another child right now.

 
Maria works full time-more often, up to 60 hours a week-for minimum wage at a laundromat in Harlingen about 30 miles from Matamoros, Mexico. Before anti-choice lawmakers passed HB 2, she could have accessed legal abortion care near her home in Harlingen, or traveled 40 minutes away to McAllen for similarly safe, legal abortion care.

See: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/10/03/undue-burden-texas-hb-2-means-maria/

Teenage Girls Given Choice of Free Contraceptives Get Far Fewer Abortions

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Teenage Girls Given Choice of Free Contraceptives Get Far Fewer Abortions 

See: http://time.com/3453184/free-contraceptives-cut-teen-abortion-rates/
Girls allowed to choose between free contraceptive methods had 76% fewer abortions than their peers in the general population – and most chose IUDs

Three in 10 teenage girls in the U.S become pregnant each year-a rate far higher than in other industrialized countries. But when girls are counseled about the most effective contraceptives and given their pick of birth control at no cost, their rates of pregnancy drop by 78% and they get 76% fewer abortions than the general population of sexually active teens.

That’s what a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests, in which researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis attempted to see what would happen when they tore down the three main barriers to teenage birth control-ignorance of options, limited access and prohibitive cost.

 

They studied a group of 1,404 teenage girls enrolled in the Contraceptive CHOICE project, a study of adolescents and women at high risk for unintended pregnancy. 62% of the girls were black and 99% were sexually active. Black teens have even higher rates of pregnancy than the rest of the population: 4 in 10 become pregnant, compared with 2 in 10 white teens.

See: http://time.com/3453184/free-contraceptives-cut-teen-abortion-rates/

A Mother in Jail for Helping Her Daughter Have an Abortion

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

A Mother in Jail for Helping Her Daughter Have an Abortion

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/magazine/a-mother-in-jail-for-helping-her-daughter-have-an-abortion.html?_r=2
On Sept. 12th, Jennifer Whalen, a 39-year-old mother of three in the rural town of Washingtonville, Pa., went to jail to begin serving a 9-to-18-month sentence. Whalen’s crime was, in effect, ordering pills online that her older daughter took in the first several weeks of an unplanned pregnancy, when she was 16, to induce a miscarriage. The medication was a combination of mifepristone (formerly called RU-486) and misoprostol. The drugs have been available from a doctor with a prescription in the United States since 2000 and are used around the world to induce miscarriage.

 
Recent research increasingly suggests that early in a pregnancy, women can safely use mifepristone and misoprostol to miscarry at home. (Much more about this here, in a story I wrote in August). But if the medical risk of this kind of do-it-yourself abortion is relatively small, the legal risk still looms large.

 
On the night before Whalen went to jail, I drove to Pennsylvania to meet her. We sat at a conference table in the office of her lawyer, who was present for the 90-minute conversation. For most of the time we spent together, she sat hunched forward, arms wrapped around herself. She was dreading the prospect of leaving her 11-year-old daughter and her husband at home, she said, as well as her older daughter, now 19, who still lives with the family. (The oldest child, a 20-year-old son, lives nearby.) “I’m scared,” Whalen said of serving her sentence. “And I’m hurt because I can’t be with my family.”

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/magazine/a-mother-in-jail-for-helping-her-daughter-have-an-abortion.html?_r=2

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/contraception-saving-live_b_5884600.html

 

On Friday, September 26, the world is celebrating World Contraception Day. Okay, ‘celebrating’ may be too strong a word. ‘Observing’ may be more like it. And the number of people actually observing the day in some form is probably small. Okay, very small. To borrow a phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the world “will little note, nor long remember” World Contraception Day 2014. That’s too bad. For in truth, there’s a whole lot to celebrate, and a whole lot more left to do if men and women everywhere are going to have access to the contraceptive method of their choice.

The obvious reason for celebrating modern contraceptives is that they allow us to have children by choice, rather than by chance. They minimize, in other words, the chances of an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. That mere fact itself is worth a celebratory cheer, but there is a lot more to get excited about.

Contraception is a life-saver.

Contraception saves lives
, particularly in developing nations where access to contraception can mean the difference between life and death for girls and women who do not have access to adequate medical care. This is particularly true for child brides who are not physically mature enough to give birth, but pregnancy is a significant health risk for women of any age who are unable to space their pregnancies more than 18 months apart.

In the United States, very few women die from pregnancy-related causes, but in some rural parts of Africa, women have a 1 in 30 lifetime chance of dying as a result of a pregnancy. Of the 800 women in the world who die every day from pregnancy-related causes, the vast majority are in the developing world.

Continue Reading »

Beyond Marriage

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Beyond Marriage 

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/opinion/sunday/beyond-marriage.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

 

MARRIAGE is disappearing. More than 40 percent of new mothers are unmarried. Many young adults drift into parenthood unintentionally. They may be cohabiting at the time of their child’s birth, but about half of these couples will have split up by the time their child is 5 years old. College-educated young adults are still marrying before having children and planning their families more intentionally. The rest of America, about two-thirds of the population, is not.

 
We’ve been worrying about these trends for years, and wondering: Can marriage be restored as the standard way to raise children? As much as we might welcome a revival, I doubt that it will happen. The genie is out of the bottle. What we need instead is a new ethic of responsible parenthood. If we combine an updated social norm with greater reliance on the most effective forms of birth control, we can transform drifters into planners and improve children’s life prospects.

 
The drifters need better educational and job opportunities, but unless we come to grips with what is happening to marriage and parenting, progress will be limited. For every child lifted out of poverty by a social program, another one is entering poverty as a result of the continued breakdown of the American family. If we could turn back the marriage clock to 1970, before the sharp rise in divorce and single parenthood began, the child poverty rate would be 20 percent lower than it is now. Even some of our biggest social programs, like food stamps, do not reduce child poverty as much as unmarried parenthood has increased it.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/opinion/sunday/beyond-marriage.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

In Texas & Around The World: Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Why Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

See: http://www.tribtalk.org/2014/09/16/why-womens-rights-matter-for-the-environment/

Texas women have suffered major setbacks to their reproductive health and rights this year.

 

At the federal level, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has made it more difficult for women to access their contraceptive method of choice. At the state level, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have enacted new restrictions on clinics providing basic women’s health care and family planning services.

 
Of course, these decisions hurt Texas women and their families – but they also increase the risk of social, economic and environmental harm in our great state.

 
When women and their medical providers are prevented from making personal health care decisions, the negative consequences are far-reaching. A woman’s inability to control the number, timing and spacing of her children impacts her health, education and career. Moreover, the cumulative impact of women having more children than they desire strains public health systems and natural resources such as water, energy and healthy food.

Continue Reading »

High Listenership and Good Stories Combine for Large-Scale Behavior Change in Sierra Leone

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE– Imagine that for 53 cents, you could reach someone in Sierra Leone with entertaining stories that educate about family planning and using bednets to prevent malaria. A United States nonprofit discovered this month that they didn’t have to imagine – the impact was real.

Population Media Center (PMC), a nonprofit, international organization that strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world with entertainment-education strategies, recently completed an impact evaluation of one of its programs in Sierra Leone. Saliwansai (“Puppet on a String”) was a 208-episode drama that aired on nine radio stations throughout Sierra Leone from April 2012 through April 2014.

“We’re excited by the results from the research survey, which was conducted with a nationally representative sample size of 1,098 respondents,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “The results clearly demonstrate the impact of the radio drama. It was entertaining, and the people of Sierra Leone tuned in.”

The results indicate that Saliwansai reached a total estimated audience of three million people between the ages of 15 and 59 years old. The results also estimate that the cost per behavior change for the listeners who, as a result of listening to the program, began discussing family planning with family, friends, or neighbors was $2.54 US and listeners who began using bednets to prevent malaria was $1.62 US.

“The cost per behavior change is important and demonstrates the power of our approach,” says Barker. “Behavior is a hard thing to change and to do it for these costs is remarkable.”

PMC uses a unique form of entertainment-education: long-running serial dramas on radio and TV. These dramas are based on real-life, mirroring every day challenges and solutions and using country data to determine which social and health issues will be addressed in each drama.

The results of Saliwansai on individual metrics demonstrate varying levels of success, such as listeners being:

  • 3.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say that you can decrease your chance of getting AIDS by using a condom every time you have sex
  • 4.1 times more likely than non-listeners to say it’s okay for information about condoms to be discussed on the radio
  • 2.9 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know where they could get a condom if they wanted one
  • 3.7 times more likely than non-listeners to say that a healthy-looking person can have HIV
  • 2.4 times more likely than non-listeners to say they would buy fresh vegetables from someone who has HIV
  • 2.3 times more likely than non-listeners to say that becoming pregnant every year can impact the health of the mother
  • 1.6 times more likely than non-listeners to say they know of an organization or people that advocate against domestic violence

“Results like these are promising,” says Scott Connolly, PMC’s Director of Research. “Sierra Leone  ranks as one of the lowest in the world on some of the United Nations Human Development Index health indicators. We’re pleased to address some of these issues with Saliwansai as part of the ongoing effort to improve life in Sierra Leone.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world. www.populationmedia.org

Condoms and Soap Operas to Save the World: A Forum in Arizona

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

TUCSON, ARIZONA– About 140 people learned about endangered species condoms and soap operas as methods to save the world on September 10th in Tucson, Arizona. The event, titled “How Can Condoms and Soap Operas Save the World?” was co-hosted by the Arizona Chapter of Population Media Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication.

The audience gathered to hear Bill Ryerson, President of the Population Media Center (PMC), Kieran Suckling, the Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Jennifer Aubrey, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona discuss domestic and international efforts to bring about positive social change. Continue Reading »