Successful proof of concept of family planning and immunization integration in Liberia

Type Journal Article - Global Health: Science and Practice
Title Successful proof of concept of family planning and immunization integration in Liberia
Volume 3
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 71-84
Globally, unmet need for postpartum family planning remains high, while immunization services are among the most wide-reaching and equitable interventions. Given overlapping time frames, integrating these services provides an opportunity to leverage existing health visits to offer women more comprehensive services. From March through November 2012, Liberia's government, with support from the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP), piloted an integrated family planning and immunization model at 10 health facilities in Bong and Lofa counties. Vaccinators provided mothers bringing infants for routine immunization with targeted family planning and immunization messages and same-day referrals to co-located family planning services. In February 2013, we compared service statistics for family planning and immunization during the pilot against the previous year's statistics. We also conducted in-depth interviews with service providers and other personnel and focus group discussions with clients. Results showed that referral acceptance across the facilities varied from 10% to 45% per month, on average. Over 80% of referral acceptors completed the family planning visit that day, of whom over 90% accepted a contraceptive method that day. The total number of new contraceptive users at participating facilities increased by 73% in Bong and by 90% in Lofa. Women referred from immunization who accepted family planning that day accounted for 44% and 34% of total new contraceptive users in Bong and Lofa, respectively. In Lofa, pilot sites administered 35% more Penta 1 and 21% more Penta 3 doses during the pilot period compared with the same period of the previous year, while Penta 1 and Penta 3 administration decreased in non-pilot facilities. In Bong, there was little difference in the number of Penta 1 and Penta 3 doses administered between pilot and non-pilot facilities. In both counties, Penta 1 to Penta 3 dropout rates increased at pilot sites but not in non-pilot facilities, possibly due to higher than average background dropout rates at pilot sites prior to the intervention in Lofa and the disproportionate effect of data from 1 large facility in Bong. The project provided considerable basic support to assess this proof of concept. However, results suggest that introducing a simple model that is minimally disruptive to existing immunization service delivery can facilitate integration. The model is currently being scaled-up to other counties in Liberia, which could potentially contribute to increased postpartum contraceptive uptake, leading to longer birth intervals and improved health outcomes for children and mothers.

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