Abt Associates staff presented Abt’s expertise in family planning and reproductive health service delivery, integration, and monitoring and evaluation at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), held Nov. 12-15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Roman Tesfaye
Diana Silimperi (L), vice president for International Health at Abt Associates, greets Roman Tesfaye, the first lady of Ethiopia, at a reception organized by Abt during the International Conference on Family Planning. Tesfaye, who spoke at the event, said that family planning is the finest option to improve the health and well-being of women.
Photo credit: eyeGet photo studio
More than 3,300 delegates from 120 countries attended ICFP. Abt staff gave 10 oral presentations, presented seven posters, led four roundtable discussions, led or co-led three Implementing Best Practices (IBP) sessions, staffed two booths, and held two receptions, including one that was attended by Roman Tesfaye, the first lady of Ethiopia.
Tesfaye said during the reception that family planning is the finest option to improve health and well-being of women. Providing youth friendly family planning services is a priority, she said, adding that empowerment means women have the sense of self-worth and the right to make informed decisions.
The Abt-related presentations and other events generated significant interest, judging by the frequent standing-room only crowds. One well-attended panel covered “The Role of the Private Sector in Family Planning Provision and Use: Past, Present and Future,” and was organized by the Abt-led Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project, USAID’s flagship initiative in private sector health.
“In sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, close to 40 percent of women go to the private sector for their family planning needs,” said Susan Mitchell, Abt Associates’ director of the SHOPS project and vice president, International Health. “Abt Associates – which has a long history of working with the private sector in many countries – shared at the conference how the private sector has been key in creating demand for a broader mix of family planning methods in India, Jordan, and Nigeria.”
Representatives of the Abt-led Health Systems Strengthening II (HSS II) project in Jordan gave several presentations, including an oral presentation with Jordan Ministry of Health Officials entitled, “A Decade of Task Sharing in Jordan: Lessons for Policy and Service Delivery.” It discussed, among other topics, HSS II’s work to integrate midwives into family planning service delivery, including insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs).
“Abt’s family planning experience covers a wide range of interventions, designed and implemented to generate sustainable impact,” said Ayman Abdelmoshen, principal associate and family planning technical lead at Abt Associates. “Our work ranges from supporting the full range of the health system, improving quality and access to family planning services through public and private sector facilities, and developing innovative community engagement approaches. ICFP allowed us to share our work and interact with so many program managers, stakeholders and policy makers.”

Slideshow: Abt Associates’ Impact in Family Planning and Reproductive Health

Jimma, Ethiopia

A patient at a clinic in Jimma, Ethiopia receives family planning counseling on modern contraception methods. The Abt Associates-led Private Health Sector Program (PHSP) in Ethiopia is working with the Federal Ministry of Health and Regional Health Bureaus – and clinics such as this one – to ensure that family planning services are supported by proper policy, provider training, public education, and reliable access to necessary supplies.

PHSP, funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through USAID, also is working to integrate family planning services with care for TB, HIV, and other illnesses – including at private health facilities. PHSP has trained more than 170 private providers in comprehensive family planning service provision, with a focus on long acting methods, and supports 112 private health facilities in delivering these services.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton

Dominican Republic A mother holds her newborn baby at a hospital in the Dominican Republic that has bolstered its health management and quality improvement systems with help from the Abt Associates-led Maternal & Child Centers of Excellence project. The five-year project, which began in 2009, helped lower – and has sustained – maternal deaths by 49 percent in 2011 in 10 intervention public hospitals. Integration of family planning services into antenatal, post-partum, and post-abortion care is part of the full range of interventions that contributed to this unprecedented reduction of maternal deaths.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton


Ruby Sinha, (left) a field representative from the Abt Associates-led, Market-Based Partnerships for Health project’s India Dimpa Injectable Contraceptive Program, conducts a one-on-one counseling session on family planning. Abt has led the introduction of this method in India with USAID for the past 13 years. DMPA, an important method for expanding choice, is currently only available through private sector providers.

Photo: Sanjeev Vyas, program director and communications advisor, Market-based Partnerships for Health, India


Latana Abdulraheem, a community volunteer, teaches women the danger signs of a difficult pregnancy at a community outreach organized by the Abt Associates-led Partnerships for Transforming Health Care II (PATHS2) at Nahuche Village in Jigawa state, northern Nigeria. Jigawa state, which is predominantly rural and has limited access to health care, has the highest maternal mortality rate in Nigeria at 2000 per 100,000 live births – more than triple the national average.

PATHS2 is improving the planning, financing, and delivery of health care services for poor and vulnerable population groups in part by educating the public about the value of obtaining professional health care, including promoting the value of antenatal care. As a result, antenatal care attendance in Jigawa, for example, has increased by more than 10-fold, from 7,467 in July 2012 to 82,474 in June 2013 in PATHS2-supported local government areas. PATHS2 is focusing on five states: Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos.

Photo credit: Partnerships for Transforming Health Care II (PATHS2)

Jordan HSSII

A nurse holds a newborn at the renovated Jordan University Hospital in Amman, Jordan in April 2013. The Jordan Health Systems Strengthening II (HSS II) project, led by Abt Associates and funded by USAID, anticipates finishing renovations of 14 hospitals’ emergency, obstetrics, and neonatal departments by the end of 2013. The renovations are part of a larger effort to improve neonatal and obstetric care. HSS II also has improved the quality of maternal and neonatal care by training service providers and installing state of the art medical equipment.

Khadija Mohammad, the head nurse in the post-partum department at Al Bashir Hospital – the largest teaching hospital in Amman, Jordan – said the renovations have made a remarkable difference. “The environment we now work in keeps us motivated and helps perform our jobs better,” Mohammed said. “There were mothers who delivered here five years ago and came back now to deliver their next babies and they don’t believe that this is the same place.”

Photo by Mais Al-Nsour, Operation Officer, Jordan Health Systems Strengthening II


A nurse holds a child during community sensitization activities about family planning and birth control methods in Mungwi district in northern Zambia in May 2013. The Scaling Up Access to Family Planning Services (SUFP) project, led by Abt Associates and funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (UKAid), contributes to increased access to and uptake of modern contraceptives. At the community level, SUFP engages women and men make informed decisions about family planning. Such decisions in Zambia has traditionally been viewed as a women’s issue, but yet social norms in many remote, rural areas emphasize large families and decision making by men.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton

Strengthening Family Planning

Jordanian women answer quiz questions on oral contraceptive pills at a Strengthening Family Planning project – in Arabic, Ta’ziz Tanzim Al Usra – event in November 2012. The event was part of a national campaign about the benefits of family planning carried out by the project, which is led by Abt Associates. The campaign succeeded in changing attitudes about oral contraceptive pills. After the campaign, 84 percent of women agreed oral contraceptive pills are safe, far exceeding the target of 60 percent.

Photo credit: Nisreen Suhail El Tell, communication manager, Strengthening Family Planning project

Lagos Nigeria

Dr. Ayo Oni, a private physician and small clinic owner in Lagos, counsels a couple on their family planning (FP) options. Dr. Oni has been able to offer his clients more FP services since participating in FP counseling and clinical training on intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants provided by the Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project – led by Abt Associates and funded by USAID.

Photo credit: Doug Trapp, Abt Associates web writer

Zambia SUFP

A nurse at a hospital in the Kasama district of northern Zambia prepares to insert a birth control implant. The Scaling Up Access to Family Planning Services (SUFP) project in Zambia – led by Abt Associates and funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (UKAid) – is expanding availability of a variety of family planning methods and services – especially for underserved areas and adolescents , increasing community support for family planning, and expanding government health facilities’ ability to deliver these services. SUFP, a four-year project, began in 2012.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton


A private midwife in the Philippines displays an intrauterine device (IUD) counseling chart at her clinic. The Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project – led by Abt Associates and funded by USAID – conducted an assessment of midwife provision of IUDs in the Philippines and will produce a case study in late 2013. The report will document lessons for successful private provision of IUDs that can contribute to increased provision of services in the country and other countries with a similar context.

Photo credit: Robin Keeley, Abt Associates senior analyst


Abt Associates understands the importance of healthy mothers and children for a country’s economic growth. Abt has been implementing sustainable maternal, newborn, and child health programs for more than two decades. Abt-led projects also seek to integrate family planning and reproductive health into essential health care packages, with a particular focus on poor and underserved populations.

“Throughout the developing world, Abt Associates works at many levels to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths,” said Ayman Abdelmohsen, Abt Associates principal associate and family planning technical lead. “Ultimately, we’re contributing to stronger families by ensuring women have access to a continuum of perinatal care.”

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton

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