Amref Health Africa's Position Statement on Family Planning

Policy

Amref Health Africa is committed to and supports the provision of quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services as an integral component of health care. Amref Health Africa believes in the attainment of sexual and reproductive health as a basic human right, namely that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.  

Amref Health Africa will therefore work with governments and other partners to promote access to quality family planning services as an essential component of good reproductive health care. Amref Health Africa promotes the right of men and women to be informed about and have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable family planning methods of their choice, and the right of women to access health care services that will enable them to proceed safely through pregnancy and childbirth, thus providing couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.

One of the challenges of access to family planning in developing countries is the quality of health systems and supply chain management for reproductive health commodities. Amref Health Africa therefore believes that to improve access, family planning services should be integrated into general health services. This includes integration of family planning services into HIV programming, such as voluntary counselling and testing services, PMTCT, HIV care and treatment services, and promotion of condoms as commodities that provide contraception and prevent HIV transmission. Such integration will increase the likelihood that women will obtain the information they need to make informed decisions regarding fertility and disease prevention.  

Family planning counselling should also be integrated into antenatal and postpartum care to provide women with critical information at a time when they need to know about the benefits of birth spacing.  

Amref Health Africa will work with communities to facilitate the communication of messages about family planning to people where they live and work as part of community systems strengthening. Community level communication can help health workers better understand how to work within cultural and religious environments to address norms and practices that may be detrimental to optimal birth spacing.  

Amref Health Africa will strive to improve community health capacities and promote community-based distribution strategies to women in their homes and communities to reduce the social and economic costs of accessing family planning services.  

In its continuing efforts to strengthen the capacity of health systems in Africa to improve maternal, neonatal and child health, Amref Health Africa will promote integration of family planning into all maternal, neonatal and child health services to optimise opportunities to provide women with family planning information and services.  

Amref Health Africa advocates for policy actions such as legislation, institutional arrangements and dedicated resources to strengthen women’s rights, limit harmful traditional practices, improve women’s opportunities to stay in school and participate in economic activities through access to high quality reproductive health and family planning services.  

Amref Health Africa is committed to working with political, global health, and policy leaders as well as financing institutions in the public and business sectors to help ensure political commitment and adequate resource commitment to family planning programmes.  

Amref Health Africa advocates for elimination of policies, social norms and practices that limit access of adolescent girls and boys to age-appropriate family planning services and information. In addition, Amref Health Africa will support efforts that enable young people to have access to age- and culturally appropriate information about contraceptive options through schools and other relevant channels, including community and faith-based organisations.

Amref Health Africa will partner with governments, civil society organisations and communities to promote gender-sensitive policies and programmes, especially within the health and education sector, in order to help policy makers and community leaders recognise and remove obstacles to accessibility and availability of reproductive health and family planning services.  

Amref Health Africa remains committed to its work in educating women on the health benefits to children of delaying, spacing and limiting births and providing them with high quality family planning services to help families meet their fertility goals and improve children’s health and survival.  Given the importance of Africa’s rapidly growing young population, Amref Health Africa recognises the importance and special needs of adolescents for age-appropriate family planning services.   

Amref Health Africa therefore supports provision of youth-friendly services that maintain confidentiality and privacy and are accessible and affordable to young people, and training of health workers to address the special concerns of young people.  

Amref Health Africa recognises that in many settings demand for family planning services is low because of lack of information, and policies or socio-cultural practices that limit access to these services. While demand may exist in other settings, it cannot be met because services are inadequate. Amref Health Africa is therefore committed to improving access to family planning services both by helping create demand through provision of education and information, as well improving access through support for service provision and integration.