In Togo, rural women face multiple barriers to obtaining adequate reproductive health services including financial need, cultural misconceptions, and the distance between their homes and the health center. As a result, many women lose their lives, or the lives of their newborns, due to unintended pregnancies or other birth complications. Integrate Health’s mission is to make quality primary health care accessible to all. This includes providing rural women the choice to use family planning by improving access to quality services and investing in reproductive health education. In partnership with the Togolese Ministry of Health, Integrate Health-supported Community Health Workers are equipped with the tools and training necessary to provide high-quality family planning education and services to women and their partners at home.
Anondé Akpala began her role as a Community Health Worker in the Kéran district in October 2020. Anondé, alongside her 43 Community Health Worker colleagues, completed a three-week training where they learned how to identify and treat certain childhood diseases, and guide pregnant women through a healthy pregnancy. After this initial training, Anondé set off as a Community Health Worker providing services to her neighbors.
Within her first few weeks as a Community Health Worker, Anondé noticed a need. Many women were interested in accessing family planning through Anondé, but unfortunately, all she could do was refer them to a health center. Anondé started to realize that this was not enough. For some women she talked to, the health center was too far from their homes. Others felt uncomfortable discussing reproductive health with health center staff. Some were unsure of the safety of family planning, or they did not have the financial resources to purchase family planning methods.
After Community Health Workers spend six months in their community and feel comfortable in their new roles, Integrate Health, in collaboration with district public health officials, provide a week-long follow-up training on family planning counseling and the administration of contraceptive methods. This training is split from the initial maternal and child health training in order phase in additional information at an effective pace. In March 2021, Anondé participated in the family planning training for the Kéran Community Health Workers. During the training she was able to practice how to provide injectable contraception using an orange to replicate an arm. She was also able to role play with her colleagues to practice counselling women and their partners on the potential side effects of the different family planning methods.
After the training, Anondé was thrilled; the training gave her the knowledge and skills to follow up with the women who had asked her questions. Finally, she could counsel them and administer contraceptive methods safely and respectfully in their own homes, free of charge. More than that, she now enables her patients and their partners to determine when they want children, ultimately leading to greater health outcomes not only for mothers, but their children as well.
Integrate Health, in partnership with the Togolese Ministry of Health, is continuously working to achieve health for all in Togo. By providing Community Health Workers with the tools and training to deliver high-quality family planning to women at home, they are bringing the healthcare women and families deserve, where and when they need it.