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Advancing Funding Opportunities for Self-Care in West Africa

Recapping a Learning Exchange Between Family Planning Leaders in Senegal and Nigeria

On August 10, 2022, the Knowledge SUCCESS project and PATH hosted a bilingual peer assist to address the issues and challenges identified by Senegal’s group of Self-Care Pioneers to better advance their progress in the field.


A peer assist is a facilitated discussion, held either face-to-face or virtually, that focuses on “learning before practice.” A person or group new to a process seeks advice from one with relevant experience. Good practices, lessons learned, and ideas are shared by people who have experience in the field of inquiry, which is a participatory reinforcement towards mutual learning. Peer assists also promote connections and knowledge exchange among colleagues.

This session aimed to target the challenges Senegal is facing in self-care and help find solutions.


This peer assist took place virtually, via Zoom, facilitated by Aissatou Thioye, Knowledge Management Regional Officer for Knowledge SUCCESS, (based in Dakar, Senegal) and Alison Bodenheimer, Family Planning Technical Advisor for Knowledge SUCCESS (based in Boston, USA). The peer assist lasted approximately 1.5 hours and benefited from interpretation services as participants spoke English and French.

During the peer assist, the Senegal Self-Care Pioneers Group began with a 5-minute presentation on their main challenge related to advancing funding opportunities for self-care in Senegal. These include domestic financing, implementation of pilot experiences based on the national guidelines, and strengthening the Self-Care Pioneers Group. Then, through a facilitated discussion, they sought advice and guidance from a group of experienced peers based in Nigeria.

During the discussion, the Nigerian participants posed clarifying questions to the Senegal team; then, together they participated in a brainstorm-and-suggestion period followed by a reflection. They closed the meeting by identifying key priorities and next steps.

Photo: Members of the Self-Care Pioneers group. Credit: PATH
Photo: Members of the Self-Care Pioneers group. Credit: PATH



After the World Health Organization (WHO) released the first self-care guidelines for sexual and reproductive health and rights in 2019, a global advocacy movement emerged to ensure that countries advance policies and programs that supported self-care practices. Self-care is the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider. PSI, as the incubator of the Self-Care Trailblazer Group (SCTG) Secretariat, is supporting the creation and growth of national self-care networks (NSNs) in at least five countries between January 2021–December 2023 to scale up self-care policies and programs in order to transform health care systems and place autonomy, power, and control in the hands of women and girls. In doing so, the SCTG can accelerate progress towards universal health coverage (UHC), as quality self-care increases individual, family, and community access to appropriate products, services, and information. Senegal’s government has long demonstrated leadership in advancing contraceptive self-injection, as well as UHC. As part of this global advocacy movement for self-care, Senegal started an awareness-raising campaign in 2020, at the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic began. This was an opportunity to advance self-care through policies and programming in alignment with UHC efforts.

Objectives of the Senegal Self-Care Pioneers Group

The Senegal Self-Care Pioneers Group includes ministry representatives, non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations. The group established a national advocacy goal for self-care by identifying the entry points and policy changes essential to advancing self-care at the national level. Following a policy landscape analysis and stakeholder mapping, the Self-Care Pioneers Group began work in 2020 to adapt and adopt the recommendations of the WHO’s 2022 revised guideline on self-care interventions for health and well-being and develop a corresponding advocacy plan.

Thus, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, the group developed a national guide to support implementation. Today it continues to provide advocacy and technical support to advance self-care in Senegal.


The peer-assist discussion focused specifically on issues related to funding a self-care program, implementing a pilot phase, and developing and using effective programmatic tools and techniques. The Senegal team asked the following questions to the Nigeria team:

  1. Financing a self-care program:
    1. How can domestic and international resources be mobilized to fund self-care programs?
    2. What funding mechanisms exist?
  2. Implementing a self-care program in a pilot phase:
    1. Can you share your experience in implementing a self-care program? What was the process like, and what are the precautions to take?
  3. The role of a Pioneers group in developing implementation tools and strategies (training materials, monitoring and evaluation documents, etc.):
    1. What role can the national self-care network play in developing strategic documents for implementation?
    2. What are the success factors for Nigeria’s self-care network?
    3. How do you keep your members engaged?


The Nigeria team shared the following recommendations based on their experiences:

  • Creating a national training document and having master trainers available at each district or region will aid scale-up and ensure capacity building at the regional level.
  • There are several self-care products available, and the approach for demand creation should be tailored to meet each target archetype.
  • The private sector should be involved in the design of approaches to ensure sustainability mechanisms are fully in place.
  • Current learning shows that e-commerce and online channels will play a key role in the availability of affordable self-care for the younger population.
  • Policymakers should review existing policies on who manages certain medications within the health system. A key example of a policy required from the outset is one governing task-shifting and task-sharing, especially if there is a shortage in human resources for health.
  • Simplified regulatory processes should be in place to ensure easy control and registration of self-care products.


  • Funding is a critical challenge to address.
  • Advocacy for in-country funding should be a priority to ensure continuing the self-care momentum.
  • The Self-Care Pioneers Group has a key role to play in providing technical advice for implementation partners.
  • Leveraging successful experiences and research and evidence on self-care is a powerful way to strengthen advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and advance self-care adoption.


The Senegal Self-Care Pioneers Group found the peer assist exchange to be a really positive experience. Since that discussion, the group has been able to reflect on its positioning and understanding that while the group itself does not currently have sufficient funds to implement a pilot program, member organizations can do so. The group will also be able to leverage its experiences. There is coordination with the Ministry of Health to ensure that each intervention addresses the self-care framework developed by the Pioneers group.

Senegal’s Ministry of Health representative remarked, “We plan on continuing the awareness-raising program on self-care, using local language, and expanding the program to reach all people in the community.”

To learn more about peer assists or implement one yourself, email West Africa Region Knowledge Management Officer Aissatou Thioye (athioye@fhi360.org) and sign up for Knowledge SUCCESS updates for the latest trending FP/RH news.

Download the guide on how to conduct a self-care peer assist.     

Kehinde Adesola Osinowo

Chief Executive Officer, ARFH

Dr (Mrs). Kehinde Osinowo is the Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH). She is an accomplished public health and developmental health specialist with over 30 years of broad-based experience in designing, implementing, strategic management, and evaluating Public Health program interventions. She has unique cross-cutting expertise in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Maternal and New- Born Child & Adolescent Health, Nutrition intervention, Youth, HIV, TB, and Malaria programming. A top executive, with technical skills in Organisational Stewardship/ Governance, Policy, Business Development, Advocacy, Grant and Program Management, Health and Community System strengthening, Program Development Strategies for Sustainable Development. A strong advocate for women and girls, with core competencies in Leadership Management, Conceptual and Analytical, Appraisal, Communication Consensus Building, and Creative Thinking. Dr (Mrs). Osinowo plays leadership and expert roles at national and state levels, and also contributes through her well-recognized technical expertise in surveillance, policy, and critical appraisal reviews and reforms affecting women and girls and other contemporary public health issues. she is a prominent member and past chair of the Service Delivery sub-Committee of the National Reproductive Health Technical Working Group and a member of other AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria national technical working groups. Dr (Mrs). Osinowo has led ARFH’s project implementation oversight across all regions of the 36+1 states of Nigeria and other West African sub-region. She is a fellow of the Bill and Melinda Gates Strategic Leadership Program, a Fellow of the West African College of Nursing, Packard Foundation fellow of the International Family Planning Leadership Program, Fellow, Academy of Public Health (FAPH) and the Harvard School of Public Health-Certificate in Continuing Education for Health care Leadership & Executive Management Course.

Dennis Aizobu

Practice Area Lead, Strategic Initiatives, Society for Family Health Nigeria

Dennis is highly creative, self-motivated, goal oriented professional with solid progressive experience in applying evidence-based approaches and principles to deliver cost effective solutions and facilitating a people centred healthcare across several spectra of the healthcare system. Expert in Human centred design, Implementation science specifically the use of Re-Aim tools and framework in application, translation, and synthesis of knowledge for pilot and scale up. With over 20 years of demonstrated experience, and the last 18 years specifically in the development sector, spanning across working with the public, private and social sector with multi-country experience in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Dennis has strong technical, managerial and financial leadership experience with core areas of competences to include project management, fund mobilization/proposal writing, supply chain, market innovation, product and market development. Over the years he has pioneered and lead the drive for total market approach to health solutions across several disease areas with very strong focus on the efficiency of the private sector. Strong in market research, private sector market development, designing and managing mixed healthcare system where he leads in harnessing and unifying the public and private sector to deliver cost effective healthcare solutions focused on consumer powered healthcare.

Ida Ndione

Senior Program Officer, PATH

Ida Ndione is a Senior Program Officer for PATH in Senegal where she leads work on self-care for sexual and reproductive health, as well as non-communicable diseases. She works with health private sector and provides technical support for the Ministry of Health in convening the Self-Care Pioneers Group and developing national self-care guidelines. Prior to this role, Ida served as PATH’s Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator for the introduction of subcutaneous DMPA and provided support on research and institutional communications. She is member of the Prospective Country Evaluation team in Senegal, conducting mixt method evaluation for Global Fund programs on Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV. She represents PATH Senegal in Several National and international Committee. Ida has fifteen years of experience working at the intersection of public health, sociology, and health policy and financing. She holds master’s degrees in public health and anthropology

Mamadou Mballo Diallo

Regional Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Manager, PATH

Mamadou Mballo DIALLO is the Regional Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Manager (MEL) at Digital Square, an PATH initiative. In this role, he supports several Digital Square projects and coordinates monitoring, evaluation, and learning activities at the regional level for teams in French-speaking Africa. Mballo holds a master’s degree in Management of Health Institutions and Policies and has over 10 years of experience in monitoring, evaluation, and learning. He has managed monitoring, evaluation, and learning for John Snow Inc. (JSI) for two large USAID multisectoral projects (USAID/SPRING and USAID Kawolor) in Senegal for the past six years. Prior to JSI, he worked on the USAID Health Program 2011-2016, in the community health component with Enda Graf Sahel/EVE in the urban landscape in Dakar, as a project officer and monitoring and evaluation manager. Mballo is passionate about associative movements and volunteering for the community.