Ukraine - Healthy Women of Ukraine Program

Dates: 2011-2016

Country: Ukraine

Client(s): USAID

Services: Technical Assistance, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research, Program Development, Training, Knowledge Management

Technical Expertise: Family Planning & Reproductive Health, Social and Behavior Change, Health Service Delivery, Maternal Health, Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Youth & Adolescent Health/OVC

Family planning is a comparatively new concept in Ukraine. Although many women and men of reproductive age are aware of modern contraceptive methods such as contraceptive pills and IUDs, their knowledge is often shallow, which leads to inconsistent and sometimes ineffective use. Ineffective use is one of the reasons for Ukraine’s relatively high abortion rate.

According to the Ministry of Health, about one-third of pregnancies end in abortion. Women’s uptake of modern family planning methods has been complicated by rumors, myths, and other misinformation about contraceptives, particularly hormonal methods. For example, many Ukrainian women believe contraceptive pills and IUDs are not safe for use. Only 3.7% of Ukrainian women of reproductive age use contraceptive pills; 12.1% use IUDs. Surprisingly, health providers—particularly gynecologists whose knowledge is out of date and inconsistent with evidence-based international norms—are often the conduits of this misinformation.

For the past eight years, USAID has supported JSI’s implementation of programs aimed at protecting women’s and couples’ reproductive health by increasing their knowledge and use of modern contraception to reduce unintended pregnancies and associated abortions. The first program, Together for Health, was implemented from 2006 –2011 in 15 oblasts of Ukraine. The second program, Healthy Women in Ukraine (2011-2016), works in an additional 15 oblasts. Both programs work(ed) with the general population, health service providers, and government to increase uptake of modern contraceptives.

JSI’s approach to these programs has three components: 1) educating the public to make informed reproductive health and family planning choices; 2) improving the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of family planning and reproductive health service providers through in-service training and capacity building; and 3) influencing the development of pro-family planning and reproductive health policies.

The Healthy Women in Ukraine Program (HWUP) has incorporated many of the lessons from Together for Health, resulting in a stronger program with increasing benefit and sustainability. Key results since the start of the program include:

• 7.8 million Ukrainians have received behavior change messages about family planning and reproductive health.

• More than 25,000 people, mainly youth, have participated in family planning and reproductive health education sessions.

• 87% of education session participants plan to use modern family planning methods in the future.

• The number of access points for family planning and reproductive services has increased more than 300% in HWUP partner oblasts.

• More than 2,600 health care providers have been trained in modern family planning approaches and counseling.

• Six regional workshops to introduce the Ukrainian government’s new national order to improve family planning and reproductive health services have been held.

• 12 regional advocacy meetings to convince oblast governments to provide more reproductive health funding have been held.

In 2014, HWUP developed a series of public service announcements under the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Communication Strategy, also developed by JSI in collaboration with the Government of Ukraine:
Hotline on Family Planning in Ukraine PSA
The Future is Worth Planning PSA

Read the related blog posts by Natalia Vartepetova on Respectful Care: A new term for the family-centered approach that women have been requesting and one by Dr. Oleg Kuzmenko Helping Family Planning Providers in Ukraine Overcome Post-Soviet Stan


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