Family planning service receives enthusiastic response in Ghana

On a late afternoon in rural Ghana, Mary, a young mother waits in line at a clinic with her six children. She struggles to keep them together while comforting the youngest child, who is sick. Mary is among several women in her community who face a stark reality: they cannot afford family planning services. She is aware of long acting and permanent family planning methods, but would rather risk an unintended pregnancy than allocate some of her family's small financial resources toward these services.

These women have reason to smile. They would have risked unwanted pregnancy were it not for the free Jadelle insertion service.

Mary and the women of her community are not alone in their predicament. In areas of Ghana where many families live far from health centers and do not have the financial means to pay for such services, family planning has become more of a luxury than a necessity. Focus Region Health Project (FRHP), implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, is changing that. Through multiple programs in the region, the project hopes to make family planning services accessible and affordable for all women who want them. One such initiative is training family planning service providers how to insert and remove Jadelle implants at Cape Coast Metro Hospital's family planning unit. Jadelle, a form of birth control in which two small capsules containing hormones are inserted into the upper arm, lasts for five years but can be removed at any time.

During the five-day training, FRHP provided Jadelle insertion free of charge. To ensure that as many women as possible could take advantage of this service, the program also provided free transportation to the clinic. Mary and many other women across the region responded enthusiastically to this free service. Women from rural areas without previous access to family planning services rushed to the clinic, many with their young children in tow, to receive their Jadelle implants. Several even returned the next day, bringing friends to whom they had spread the word.

In choosing to take part in this program, Mary and the women living in her region of Ghana have opened doors for their futures. They no longer have to fear unwanted pregnancies. Most importantly, according to Mary, she now has a choice in her family's future.