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.
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.
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:
The Nigeria team shared the following recommendations based on their experiences:
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 (email@example.com) 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.