Beni Suef Governorate is on the west bank of the Nile River, just south of Cairo, and has more than 3 million people. Since 2018, Dr. Madiha Serry has headed the Beni Suef Family Planning Department, overseeing seven district offices and hospitals, 202 family planning clinics, and 28 mobile clinics.
Dr. Madiha reviews family planning guidelines with a colleague. All photos by Chuanpit Chua-oon for JSI.
When Egypt’s population hit 100 million in early 2020, the government prioritized controlling population growth by boosting available family planning services in governorates. The Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP)/Family Planning Sector aims to increase access to these services by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
“In Beni Suef, we had four physician trainers whose job was to train all family planning service providers in seven districts in our governorate,” explained Dr. Madiha. As such, the USAID-funded Strengthening Egypt’s Family Planning Program (SEFPP), managed by JSI, has been working with the MOHP/Family Planning Sector to expand the pool of family planning trainers at the governorate level by training trainers.
Before SEFPP, each governorate, including Beni Suef, had only two to three people who were responsible for conducting pre- and in-service family planning trainings for other physicians and nurses. Because the number of districts in each SEFPP-supported governorate ranges from five to 20, it was difficult for the trainers to cover all districts.
Between its inception in 2019 and 2020, SEFPP helped the MOHP/Family Planning Sector conduct 11 training of trainers (TOTs) in each of the 11 governorates, training 91 physicians and 162 nurse supervisors to make sure there is at least one trainer per district. The five-day TOT includes interpersonal communication, facilitation techniques, training material preparation, and technical coaching in clinical settings. By using the cascade training approach with health specialists at the governorate level who can then conduct the training themselves, the knowledge and capacity is maintained and can be perpetuated for future health care workers.
Dr Mohamed, obstetrician and gynecologist and family planning methods supervisor in Beni Suef.
“The [training] has completely changed the way I conduct trainings, as well as the way I interact with my colleagues, clients, and patients,” said Dr. Mohamed Gomaa Shaban, an obstetrician and gynecologist and family planning methods supervisor in Beni Suef. “Dr. Madiha has been a great and supportive leader. In one year, we conducted about 50 trainings and each [training] had 20 trainees. So, in one year, we have trained 1,000 [health specialists].”
Abeer Fekry, nurse practitioner and family planning nurse supervisor in Beni Suef.
Ms. Abeer Fekry, a nurse practitioner who is the family planning nurse supervisor in Beni Suef, attended a TOT in 2020. Dr. Mohamed was one of the trainers. “The TOT taught me how to speak in front of people with confidence and how to deliver information to people from different backgrounds,” Abeer recalled. “We learned how to facilitate group discussions and how to prepare a role-play. We loved the new way the trainers conducted the training.”
Like Dr. Mohamed, Abeer conducts two trainings a month, each for 15–20 nurses, on the basics of family planning, counseling, how to fill registration forms, and more. So far, she has trained almost 500 nurses.
The benefits of the TOT are ongoing as the MOHP physicians and nurses who were trained transfer their knowledge and capacity to others. “We have a shortage of doctors and nurses who provide family planning services,” said Dr. Madiha. “The fact that we now have a pool of good trainers in our governorate will [ease] this problem since they will train more doctors and nurses in family planning.”
Dr. Madiha meets with her staff.