RSPN, in partnership with the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) and the Punjab Rural Support Programme (PRSP) is implementing a two year project titled, “Provision of Reproductive Health Services through Social Marketing” in 3 districts of Punjab. Initiated in April 2013 and funded by Greenstar Social Marketing, interventions are being implemented in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Jhang. The project aims to improve the quality of life of women and children in Pakistan by:
Using RSPN’s proven model of social mobilisation through Community Resource Persons, demand is being created for reproductive health products. Using behavior change communication, demand is being created for reproductive health services and to enable rural communities to advocate for better coordination and accountability for reproductive health issues. Through the Community Resource Persons, RSPN will reach 600,000 underserved people of district Jhang, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan, living in areas not served by the government’s Lady Health Worker programme, focusing on married women of reproductive age and their spouses. Premarital counseling will also be provided to young girls and boys through expert mobilisation teams.
Collectively, these interventions will raise the contraceptive prevalence rate by 10% in the target areas, and will contribute directly to achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, by decreasing the maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate by the end of 2015.
To build a locally driven mechanism whereby communities are able to access information and healthcare services, RSPN has set up a system of feedback and accountability with begins at the community level and expands to the district level. At the first level, 300 Village Health Committees have been formed in the three project districts. Each committee is comprised of at least twenty members (10 male and 10 female), and represents a population of 2000. These Village Health Committees are responsible for supporting the people of their community in accessing information and healthcare services. They meet once a month and discuss issues being faced by their community with respect to healthcare, and work towards resolving them.
From each Village Health Committee, one male and one female member is also a part of a wider, union council level health committee. The Union Council Health Committee, which meets once every three months, represents all villages within its union council, and supports communities in accessing healthcare on a broader scale.
At the district level, the union council health committees have been federated into a District Health Network, which comprises of one male and one female member from each union council health committee. The District Health Network is a platform for communities to highlight issues they face in accessing healthcare directly to the district government and advocate for their issues to be resolved.
In each village, the Village Health Committee has selected two male and two female Community Resource Persons (CRPs), who are responsible for creating awareness for reproductive healthcare and services, and for referring communities to health facilities to access services. A total of 1200 CRPs have been equipped with knowledge regarding reproductive healthcare and services and will motivate communities to seek institutional healthcare.
Once the CRPs were trained, they identified all married women of reproductive age within their villages, as well as their spouses, with the aim of sensitizing them on reproductive health and birth spacing through a process of community meetings and household visits. The number of men and women the CRPs have reached thus far is shown in figure 1.
As part of their efforts to create awareness and demand for reproductive health services, the Community Resource Persons referred married women of reproductive age and their husbands to outreach camps, where they were counseled by healthcare service providers. Once they were provided information by these service providers, the referred couples were able to make informed choices for their reproductive health – 89% of the couples referred by the CRPs began using some form of contraception.
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