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Ensuring Continuity of Essential FP/RH Services During Emergencies

Insights from the 2021 Learning Circles Asia Cohort

In November and December 2021, family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) workforce members based in Asia convened virtually for the third Knowledge SUCCESS Learning Circles cohort. The cohort focused on the topic of ensuring continuity of essential FP/RH services during emergencies.

Goals of Learning Circles

  • Network with colleagues in the same region who are facing similar programmatic challenges.
  • Share in-depth, practical solutions to priority challenges that peers can immediately adapt and implement to improve their own family planning programs.
  • Learn new and creative ways for exchanging knowledge and gaining the skills needed to replicate those techniques.

Through weekly Zoom sessions and WhatsApp chats, 28 participants from eight countries across Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines) shared personal experiences around what is and isn’t working when it comes to providing essential FP/RH services during emergencies.

Key Takeaways

  • Countries in Asia shared similar issues, such as challenges prioritizing other health issues alongside COVID-19 and recognizing the benefits of using digital technology during emergencies.
  • The local is the solution (e.g., strengthening local capacity and ensuring local coordination). Focusing on the local can help quickly solve problems during an emergency.
  • The concept of self-care (e.g., for injectables) becomes even more important during emergencies.
  • Using human-centered design, including audience participation and grounding solutions in client needs, are effective ways to develop new strategies.
  • There is still a need to use low-technology communication methods to reach people who have limited or no internet connection.
  • Critical adaptations to ensure service continuity during COVID-19 included engaging community volunteers within the health system, providing them with needed support (e.g., skills, tools, and techniques), and recognizing their contributions to instill a sense of pride for being part of this cohesive group of health care workers.

Explore More Insights from the Cohort

Grace Gayoso Pasion

Regional Knowledge Management Officer, Asia, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Grace Gayoso-Pasion is currently the Asia Regional Knowledge Management (KM) Officer for Knowledge SUCCESS at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Program. More known as Gayo, she is a development communication professional with nearly two decades of experience in communication, public speaking, behavior change communication, training and development, and knowledge management. Spending most of her career in the nonprofit sector, specifically in the public health field, she has worked on the challenging task of teaching complex medical and health concepts to urban and rural poor in the Philippines, most of whom never finished primary or secondary school. She is a longtime advocate for simplicity in speaking and writing. After completing her graduate degree in communications from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore as an ASEAN scholar, she has been working in regional KM and communication roles for international development organizations assisting various Asian countries with improving their health communication and KM skills. She is based in the Philippines.

Pranab Rajbhandari

Country Manager, Breakthrough ACTION Nepal, Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs

Pranab Rajbhandari is the country manager/senior social behavior change (SBC) advisor for CCP/ Breakthrough ACTION Nepal. He was the chief of party for the SBC Systems Strengthening project from 2018–2020, the deputy chief of party/SBCC advisor for the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) Nepal project from 2014–2017, and led the SBC team for CCP within the Suaahara Project from 2012–2014. From 2003–2009, he was with FHI 360’s USAID-funded ASHA and IMPACT projects in varying roles as the communication specialist, program team leader/SBCC advisor, and program officer. He has independently consulted nationally and internationally for USAID, UN, and GIZ projects. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Mahidol University, Bangkok, and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Michigan State University, Michigan.

Agung Arnita

Independent Consultant & Former Program Manager, Yayasan Jalin Komunikasi Indonesia

Agung Arnita has been working on various issues from sanitation to education. From 2014 to 2021, she worked in Johns Hopkins CCP Indonesia as a program officer in the MyChoiceProgram. In collaboration with the National Population and Family Planning Board, the MyChoice program was designed to increase the use of modern contraception and ensure that women could opt from a variety of contraceptive methods. She was responsible for the Kampung KB component focusing on community mobilization in this project. During the pandemic, she also worked in the COVID-19 project in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. She believes that households and communities are the primary producersof health and, therefore, they play an essential role in the success of any health program.