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‘BARMMHealth’ Project boosts number of users of modern family planning

COTABATO CITY (PIA) -- The "BARMMhealth" project has boosted the number of current users of modern family planning in the Bangsamoro region to nearly 250,000, of which 88 percent are new family planning users.

The Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said the project played a vital role in improving reproductive health outcomes and building a more resilient health system in the region.

The MOH attributed to the project the improvement of the use of family planning methods, noting that access to family planning services has been made easier since its implementation in 2019 as a collaborative partnership among the MOH, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the University Research Co., LLC (URC).

“With the help of USAID and URC, we have made strides in advancing improvements in birth spacing, maternal and child health, and adolescent reproductive health services. The improvements are a result of our dedicated and collaborative efforts,” said Minister of Health Dr. Rizaldy Piang.

The ‘BARMMHealth’ project aims to improve access to quality family planning, maternal and child health, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services for Bangsamoro families and communities.

Further, through the BARMMHealth project, the region has also established 86 functional adolescent-friendly health facilities that have provided over 68,000 adolescents with culture- and gender-sensitive information and counseling services on adolescent reproductive health.

Young moms. (L-R) Fhaidza Laguiali, Lubaina Zainal, and Michelle Kali have received family planning services from USAID-trained health care providers. They joined the URC-supported Family Planning (FP) on Wheels in Buluan, Maguindanao. Photo credit: Kenny Nodalo/URC)

Early this month, health officials from the Bangsamoro region, USAID, the URC, and other stakeholders gathered in this city to celebrate the gains of the ‘BARMMHealth' project.

In a video message, Andrea Halverson, director of the USAID Office of Health, emphasized that the ‘BARMMHealth’ project has made great contributions to improving the accessibility of comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents in BARMM communities by equipping the younger generation with knowledge on responsible sexuality.

Andrea Halverson, director of the USAID Office of Health, underscores the importance of the 'BARMMHealth' project to the women in the Bangsamoro region, emphasizing that the project was able to help the BARMM government improve its family planning services.

“This helped empower providers with essential knowledge and skills in family planning services. Additionally, we strengthen the mobilization of community health workers, who play a vital role in reaching remote and underserved communities,” she said.

Earl Gast, president of URC, shares some of the major accomplishments of the 'BARMMHealth' project, which aims to strengthen reproductive health activities in the region.

Meanwhile, Earl Gast, president of URC, shared that through the project and in partnership with the BARMM’s Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD-BARMM), a team from URC was able to train over 500 health workers, social workers, and parent leaders in family planning, counseling, and information giving.

He also said that over 1,300 midwives and nurses spanning 656 service delivery points are now proficiently offering family planning counseling services to clients in different areas of the region.

Amina Mustapha, mother of three and progestin subdermal implant user, emphasizes the benefits of using modern family planning methods.

Amina U. Mustapha, mother of three from Maguindanao and a modern family planning user of Progestin Subdermal Implant (PSI), underscored the importance of using modern family methods as part of being a responsible parent.

“Mahirap po 'pag sunod sunod kasi napapabayaan po natin 'yung panganay or 'yung sunod. Sa panahon ngayon ay mahirap 'yung pamumuhay dapat may agwat po talaga,” she stressed.

(It’s hard to have children one after the other because sometimes we neglect the other siblings. Then, with life nowadays, it’s very difficult. There should really be a gap between pregnancies.)

Penny Agod, a midwife from IPHO Maguindanao, shares some of her experiences during their team's family counseling services to women in their area.

Penny Agod, a midwife from the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) of Maguindanao, is one of the health workers in the Bangsamoro region who are providing family counseling services to women in their area.

“Ang family planning po ay talagang ina-advocate namin sa aming area na maganda ito. Kumbaga, nagbabahay bahay kami, nagka conduct ng “Usapang serye.” Inaanyayahan namin ang lahat ng mga babaeng pwedeng maka avail ng family planning at inexplain namin lahat lahat ng contraceptive methods na maganda ito siya,” she explained. 

(Family planning is being advocated in our area as a healthy behavior. We do house-to-house visits, we conduct “Usapang serye” (let’s talk series), we encourage women that they can choose family planning, and we explain all the contraceptive methods and that these are beneficial for them.)

The BARMM government and its partners ensure that the project will continue to work toward its objectives to improve the social norms and strengthen healthy behaviors among underserved adolescents, youth, women, and men; fortify the quality of family planning, maternal and child health, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services; and bolster key public health policies and systems needed to support behaviors and services for family planning, maternal and child health, and adolescent sexual and reproductive health services in the Bangsamoro region. (LTB -- PIA Cotabato City)

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