Reaching the unreached and serving the underserved

30 Nov 2011 | Family planning
2011 International Conference on Family Planning, Senegal. Today, experts from Marie Stopes International present findings on delivering successful family planning services to some of the most underserved communities in the world.

Dana Hovig, Marie Stopes International CEO said: “Committed to reaching poor, young, and isolated communities, Marie Stopes International brings family planning services to 7 million women every year, but it is only through shared learning and joint action that we will realise everyone’s right to effective family planning.”

Increasing family planning access in hard to reach communities
Findings from a retrospective study, being presented at today’s conference[1], demonstrate the effectiveness and sustainability of well-run mobile outreach programmes in reaching the underserved in developing countries. Marie Stopes International’s mobile outreach model takes family planning services in over 6,000 locations that conventional health services cannot reach. A retrospective study of face to face interviews with women who had received IUDs or implants at outreach sites in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Vietnam found that 40% of women (n=4,273) had not previously been using modern contraception. Additionally, 23% were under 25 years old (a group known to be disproportionately affected by lack of access to family planning), and 35% had no formal education (used by Marie Stopes International as a proxy for poverty where the progress out of poverty index is unavailable). The evaluation identified a need to strengthen quality counselling services amongst the health workforce to reduce discontinuation rates of contraception and switching to short-term methods. The study will also contribute to a panel presentation[2] reviewing evaluation tools which are vital to promoting capacity building amongst healthworkers and increasing dialogue amongst implementers, researchers and donors.

Ensuring a comprehensive method mix to suit individual needs and local service provision

Long-acting and permanent methods (LAPMs) offer additional choice for family planning and form an integral part of Marie Stopes International’s comprehensive method mix. A study being presented today[3] shows IUDs can be delivered safely and effectively through mobile outreach. Furthermore, the study suggests increased IUD provision can provide a sustainable and cost-effective increase in couple years of protection in rural settings and for countries where IUD use is relatively low. IUDs offer highly effective pregnancy prevention for five to 12 years, a strong benefit in areas with limited family planning services, and are used by are used by 150 million women worldwide.

Family planning in conflict zones

Family planning services are a life-saving necessity yet are all too often sidelined during times of conflict. The 20 year crisis in northern Uganda had a devastating impact on reproductive health, leaving the contraceptive rate for women in the region 50% lower than the national average (2006 DHS survey). Marie Stopes Uganda successfully boosted voluntary contraceptive use from 6.9% to 22.9% over four years, through support to four rural Ministry of Health centres, mobile outreach teams and behavioural change communications including radio dramas.[4]

Marie Stopes International exists to reach the underserved, by providing them with the fullest possible range of family planning services and comprehensive reproductive healthcare possible. In 2010 alone, more than 7 million couples were using a modern method of contraception as a result of our work. 

– Ends –

[1] Gillian Eva, Thoai Ngo: Delivery of sexual and reproductive health services in remote settings

2 Patricia MacDonald, Mengitsu Asnake, Jully Chilambwe, Adrienne Testa, Kenzo Fry, Nomi Fuchs-Montgomery: Changing the Landscape: Innovative Approaches to Long Acting and Permanent Method (LAPM) Services in Sub Saharan Africa

3 Adrienne Testa, Onome Akpogheneta, Shahid Hossain, Tania Boler: Reaching out: Results from mobile services providing access to IUDs in rural Bangladesh

4 Sara Casey, Elie Ngoyi, Jessica Kakesa, Adrienne Testa, Sarah Ashraf: Family Planning on the Frontlines: Implementing Family Planning Programmes for Populations affected by War

Notes to Editors

For more details, media enquiries and interviews please contact:

In Dakar

Michael Tirrell, Communications Manager

44 (0)7771 681 265

In London

+44 (0)20 3219 8005 or  +44 (0)20 3219 8006 
Out of hours: +44 (0)7769 166 516




Please visit our Conference Stand in Room C01 or visit to find out more about our work.

Categories: Senegal; Africa; Family planning