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COVID-19 & Voluntary Family Planning Resources

COVID-19 and Voluntary Family Planning Resources Across Five Thematic Areas

Last updated: 1/13/21

New information is being generated and disseminated daily from a multitude of sources about COVID-19 and its effect on voluntary family planning and reproductive health care (FP/RH). While this wealth of information is welcome, it can also be overwhelming.

In response, Knowledge SUCCESS curated a shortlist of voluntary family planning and COVID-19 resources across five thematic areas. Several other knowledge hubs exist for FP/RH and COVID-19 resources. The Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health manages the crowd-sourced COVID-RHR Hub. Family Planning 2020 curates a collection of general and country resources and its COVID-19 Voices campaign.

Our hyper-curated list complements existing hubs by highlighting high-quality resources that fall under five critically important areas of voluntary family planning care. We take people’s different learning styles into consideration and include information that is presented in different formats, such as briefs, articles, webinars,  and podcasts. Like our That One Thing newsletter, this list is intentionally short and focused, helping you quickly get the high-quality information you need. The list will be updated on a quarterly basis.

Our five thematic areas are listed below. You can quickly jump to resources in that section by clicking on the thematic area.

14 Actions You Can Take Today to Adapt Your Program for COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, many countries issued stay-at-home orders and have limited the provision of FP/RH care. Health care systems are overburdened with COVID cases, and those who do visit busy clinics risk becoming infected with coronavirus. As a result, people urgently need easier ways to obtain and administer contraceptive methods at home.

International Self-Care Day 2020

Connecting people to knowledge, at a personal level.

The Self-Care Trailblazers Group developed a social media toolkit for self-care day, July 24. The toolkit contains several resources on self-care, FP, and COVID -19 for organizations and individuals to amplify via social media. (read more) Users are invited to share these graphics and tweets on their social channels by:
1) Clicking on the "Click to Tweet" link attached within each tile.
2) Attaching the corresponding graphic to your tweet.
Users are free to use and adapt the suggested language. The toolkit also provides suggested hashtags, including #SelfCare, #COVID19, and #selfcare4srhr and the handle, @selfcare4srhr" (read less)

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Three Women. UN Photo by Martine Perret

Self-care interventions as an essential part of a well-functioning health systems

This webinar addressed the increasing role of self-care interventions in building sustainable health care systems during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The experts and panelists from WHO, the United Nations, World Bank (read more), HRP, and other global leaders in FP/RH discussed their experiences implementing self-care in various settings including during the current COVID-19 epidemic. Panelists spoke about the opportunities to advance telemedicine and other self-care enhancing technologies, and the chance to put power and choice into the hands of individuals. They also spoke about the urgent need to scale up self-care, the necessity of clear communication strategies on self-care, and the specific factors needed for the most marginalized communities to access and use self-care interventions.(read less)

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Two women

Family planning during the COVID-19 pandemic: The use of digital technology to support self-care interventions

The blog post features a conversation with Population Services International (PSI) staff from India, Nigeria, and Uganda about their pandemic adaptations and self-care solutions. Interviewees give specific examples of how their programs are (read more)harnessing digital technologies to encourage self-care and increase the accessibility and availability of RH information and services for consumers who need them the most during these unprecedented times. Digital strategies include social media messaging, mobile text and audio messages directly to women, text-based digital classrooms, and digital self-counseling through artificial intelligence.(read less)

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Quality of Care Framework diagram

A new quality of care framework to measure and respond to people’s experience with self-care

This blog post highlights the Quality of Care Framework for Self-Care developed by Population Services International with the Self-Care Trailblazers Working Group. While the resource is not specific to COVID-19, the pandemic (read more)does place a spotlight on individuals’ need to self-manage their health needs and on governments’ desire to help individuals, communities, and national and international health systems in their efforts to combat the pandemic. The post describes the origins of the framework, the content of the framework, who should use it, and how it might be implemented and measured. The five core domains of the framework are technical competency, client safety, information exchange, interpersonal connect and choice (to engage in self-care), and continuity of care.(read less)

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Contraceptives. Photo credit: PATH/Will Boase

Where There are Few Screens: Digital Training for Self-Care in the Pandemic and Beyond

COVID-19 has impeded in-person training for health workers and for women using modern contraceptive methods. This article focuses on the growing necessity of digital trainings and discusses the successes and challenges of an online (read more) course for health workers on the self-injectable DMPA-SC and a self-injection training video developed by PATH’s DMPA-SC Access Collaborative. The DMPA-SC online course can be taken on devices with internet access, such as a computer or mobile phone. A study conducted on the effectiveness of the course demonstrated that health care workers who completed the course gained the skills and knowledge required for injecting DMPA-SC but were weak on other family planning information. Challenges included slow or no internet connection, lack of time to take the course, and poor phone quality. Most women who watched the self-injection training video successfully self-injected, but many noted that interaction with a provider would be beneficial for additional support.(read less)

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Digital Self-Care

Digital Self-Care

The Self-Care Trailblazer (SCT) Group and HealthEnabled created this framework on digital self-care to guide family planning practitioners in using mobile phones, the internet, artificial intelligence, and smart phones to expand voluntary engagement (read more) with family planning, especially during COVID-19. The SCT Group and HealthEnabled conducted a desk review, held key informant interviews, and reviewed current experiences and best practices to build this framework. The framework introduces considerations and research questions for implementers, policymakers, advocates, and digital health developers. The three domains of self-care interventions are covered in the document: self-awareness, self-testing, and self-management. Within digital self-care, there are four domains for consideration: user experience; quality assurance; privacy and confidentiality; and accountability and responsibility. The document poses questions to ask within those four domains, makes recommendations for application to self-care, and guides readers through a digital self-care road map. The framework ends with a call to action for different stakeholders in the digital self-care arena.(read less)

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Severe disruptions in the FP/RH supply chain call for innovative methods of tracking, maintaining, and procuring supplies to mitigate the growing unmet need for contraception.

United Nations Population Fund

Supply Chain Management Programmatic Guidance in Times of COVID-19

This document lays out the guidance from UNFPA to country offices in the Arab States Region to continue provision of reproductive health drugs and supplies. The guidance is applicable to other regions as well. (read more)Recommendations include engaging with relevant Ministry of Health officials to assess stock levels; extending support ministries for forecasting supply amounts; diagnosing expected difficulties with border closings and shipping difficulties; coordinating supplies with nongovernmental organization and ministry partners; setting up strategies with partners to respond to a supply crisis; reviewing current shipments to the country; and providing technical assistance to other partners to calculate timelines.(read less)

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D-RISC: Measuring disruption risk for supply chains

Countries around the world are adopting measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. But many of those measures, such as mandatory home confinement, restricted movement of goods and people, and even social distancing (read more)are wreaking havoc on the world’s supply chains. Some shipments are getting out, some are not, and some are just collecting dust. D-RISC, a new tool created by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, uses data triangulation through multiple health-, policy-, and transport-supply sources to gauge procurement risk for more informed decision-making. The tool has a new public interface that is easily accessible on the Coalition’s website.(read less)

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Humanitarian Development Nexus

Ensuring Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Supplies

This advocacy brief—published by the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition—calls on policymakers and decision-makers to ensure the sustainability and durability of supply chains (read more) for reproductive health care at points where humanitarian and development work converge. The brief touches on collaborative action through working groups, deploying support staff, disseminating emergency health kits, strengthening supply chains at various stages of a crisis, and integrating emergency planning activities into budgets. Specific, actionable recommendations are provided on improving supply chain preparedness and recovery. (read less)

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An ASHA using the FPLMIS mobile application

TCIHC Successfully Advocates for Supply Chain Management Tool in Uttar Pradesh Cities

This article describes The Challenge Initiative for Healthy Cities’ (TCIHC) role in supporting implementation and rollout of the Family Planning Logistic Management Information System (FPLMIS) from its primarily rural use in 2017 into (read more) 20 urban areas in Uttar Pradesh, India. The FPLMIS is an easy-to-use SMS-based application that enables users to monitor and order family planning commodity stocks to minimize interrupted supplies and unavailable contraceptives. The system is helping community health workers rapidly acquire and manage family planning supplies through a streamlined system, which has proven especially helpful during COVID pandemic. (read less)

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Micro Modeling: Modeling the Impact of COVID-19 Mitigation on Contraceptive Needs

The MICRO Modeling tool, produced by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, helps programs quantify the shifts in contraceptive supply needs that might occur from pursuing different strategies to alleviate service delivery disruptions. (read more)The tool comes pre-loaded with analytics from 135 low- and middle-income countries. Associated briefs about each country in English, French, and Spanish explain the impact of COVID-19 on contraceptive use and discuss strategies for mitigating the impact. Since the state of supply chains is shifting regularly, the tool and briefs are updated frequently.(read less)

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COVID-19 is exacerbating gender inequality because women are disproportionately affected by negative outcomes of the pandemic. Economic stress, social isolation, and restricted movement resulting from the pandemic are also causing a spike in GBV, particularly when women are forced to “lock down” with abusers in their home. Now more than ever, FP/RH practitioners need guidance on how to recognize and responded to GBV.


UNICEF Gender-Based Violence Initiative / Episode 1

USAID's Breakthrough ACTION project developed this short guide that provides important considerations, messages, and resources to support country programs in adapting their FP/RH-focused social and behavior change programming to respond to the (read more)challenges presented by COVID-19. Program adaptations and messaging should be adapted in line with country context, available services, and local government response, including that of coordinating bodies responsible for COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement efforts.(read less)

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Intersectionality as a Lens to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Development and Humanitarian Contexts

This commentary focuses on the importance of development and humanitarian agencies applying an intersectional lens to reproductive health care during this virus outbreak. The authors describe how pandemics like COVID-19 expose (read more)the magnitude of existing inequalities and highlight how even without the virus outbreak of COVID-19, access to RH care in development and humanitarian settings is uneven. The commentary concludes that solely fixating on the impacts of COVID-19 may neglect the structural, systemic inequalities affecting access to RH care. Understanding the multiple dimensions of power, historical structural inequalities, the role of the underlying social context, and complexity of lived experiences is critical to informing policy and action and equalizing access.(read less)

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A woman

Gender-Based Violence in the Age of COVID-19

This article originally appeared on the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) website. The IGWG is a network of multiple nongovernmental organizations, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), cooperating agencies, and the Bureau for Global Health of USAID.

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Breakthrough ACTION

Guidance on Social and Behavior Change for Family Planning During COVID-19

USAID's Breakthrough ACTION project developed this short guide that provides important considerations, messages, and resources to support country programs in adapting their FP/RH-focused social and behavior change programming to respond (read more)to the challenges presented by COVID-19. Program adaptations and messaging should be adapted in line with country context, available services, and local government response, including that of coordinating bodies responsible for COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement efforts.(read less)

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Emerging Strategies to Engage Men and Boys in Addressing the Gendered Impact of COVID-19: A Virtual Forum

The Interagency Gender Working Group Male Engagement Taskforce hosted a virtual forum in September 2020 about key issues facing men and boys during the pandemic. Speakers from Grassroots Soccer and a social media (read more)campaign from the Guatemala Network of Men for Gender Equality and Equity spoke about how their programs were adapted for the COVID-19 context. Grassroots Soccer adapted their curriculum called Skillz for mobile phones, and the social media campaign from the Guatemala Network of Men focused their campaign on men’s roles during the pandemic. The forum also suggested next steps for programming and research on the shifting caregiving roles for men and boys, prevention of gender-based violence, and digital interventions. The meeting agenda, presentations, and a recording are all now available on the forum’s summary page.(read less)

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Data Collection on Violence against Women and COVID-19: Decision Tree

Decision tree: Data Collection on Violence against Women and COVID-19

To prevent harm, those collecting data on gender-based violence must carefully consider a woman’s safety and household situation before data collection begins. This decision tool helps national statistical offices, policymakers and researchers, and (read more) organizations with gender-based violence programs decide when and how to best collect data on women's experiences of violence and their access to and use of relevant services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tool was developed by collaboration among kNOwVAWdata, UNFPA Asia and the Pacific, UN Women, and World Health Organization it is available for download in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Khmer, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese.(read less)

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The COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker

The COVID-19 Sex-Disaggregated Data Tracker

The International Center for Research on Women, the African Population and Health Research Center, and Global Health 50-50 partnered to launch the world's most comprehensive database of sex disaggregated data on COVID-19 from 170 countries. (read more) The open-access tracker shows which country governments have and have not reported sex-disaggregated data in the past month and displays the gender differences in COVID-19 related death, testing, treatment, and care. Thus far, data show that globally slightly more men than women are contracting COVID-19, being hospitalized, being admitted to intensive care units, and dying. The site also releases a report on monthly trends, updates, and key takeaways and links to news articles. (read less)

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As a result of limited access to FP/RH care during the pandemic, women may experience unintended pregnancies, and there is a heightened urgency for access to care.

United Nations Population Fund

Ride-Hailing App Delivers Contraceptives to Users’ Doorsteps

This news report from UNFPA in Uganda highlights their work with health officials; Marie Stopes International; and SafeBoda, a popular local ride-hailing app. Supply chain interruptions and transport restrictions have limited the availability (read more)of a wide range of essential reproductive health supplies. In response, these partners created an e-shop where individuals can order the products they need through the SafeBoda app. When a user requests an item, the app identifies the nearest pharmacy within a 7-kilometer radius where the item is in stock. A SafeBoda driver then picks up the item and delivers it to the user. Deliveries are made to individuals as well as local health centers helping to fill gaps in the supply chain.(read less)

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Pathfinder International

Technical Guidance: Family Planning During COVID-19

Pathfinder International presents this guidance document for program staff and local partners to continue providing voluntary FP during the three phases of the COVID-19 response: mitigation, surge, and recovery/suppression. (read more)The document provides seven guiding principles and priorities for the response, and requirements and recommendations that fall into four categories: (1) Infection prevention and control and personal protective equipment, (2) client-oriented family planning services, (3) community-based services, and (4) coordination and advocacy with ministries and donors.(read less)

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Call to Action for Uninterrupted Access to Reproductive Health Supplies During and After the COVID-19 Crisis

The Advocacy and Accountability Working Group of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition put out this call to action (CTA) to make a case for why RH supplies and care must be included in COVID-19 (read more)emergency response interventions and policies; interruptions of supply chains must be solved; and continued financial support for reproductive health supplies must be ensured. The CTA also includes specific actions for governments, donors, partners, and stakeholders to take for each of these categories. The CTA emphasizes that taking the recommended actions during the crisis will help to reduce the gaps between RH supplies and the women and girls who need them, even beyond the crisis.(read less)

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A mother holding her baby. Credit: PAI

Optimizing the World Health Organization COVID-19 Guidance

PAI produced this policy brief with feedback from international NGOs and local civil society members to help organizations put into practice WHO’s reproductive health care guidance, “Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context.” (read more) The brief recommends concrete policy, programmatic, and budgetary decisions to optimize and implement the WHO guidance and includes case examples of how country governments have adapted the guidance to suit their contexts. It also provides extended recommendations for continuing the provision of reproductive health care to various populations. The document is meant to be updated as organizations continue learning and working through the pandemic.(read less)

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Graphics of contraceptives

The Power of Choice: Ensuring Access to Family Planning in the COVID-19 Era

This online event co-hosted by Devex and Bayer in July 2020 brought together panelists from the United Nationals Population Fund, Bayer, the Center for Global Development, and Women in Global Health to address (read more) the many challenges facing the reproductive health supply chain and the health and safety of front-line health professionals. With Bayer’s expertise in supply chain management, the UNFPA is partnering with them to address supply chain logistics in a few countries with growing humanitarian need. Panelists also called for more women in global health leadership because many of the current systems in place were created by men and, as a result, may suit men’s needs better than women’s needs.(read less)

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IGWG. Photo credit: Cassondra Puls (WRC)

Shaping the New COVID-19 Reality: Creating Evidence-Based Solutions to Sustain Family Planning in Humanitarian Settings and Across the Nexus

The Women’s Refugee Commission presented research findings on the landscape of family planning services in various crisis-affected settings through a virtual consultation event where participants formed recommendations based on the evidence. (read more) The study included key informant interviews before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, three case studies of family planning services in Cox’s Bazar in Bangaldesh, cyclone Idai-affected Mozambique, and Borno State in Nigeria, a global coverage survey of implementing agencies, and a literature review. The research revealed that long-acting reversible contraceptives and emergency contraception was less available than other methods, and focus group participants were less familiar with those methods. Stockouts and lack of provider training in those methods made them even less accessible than other methods. Results also highlighted the need to support the resiliency of local stakeholders who are often the first sources of help for communities. Small group discussions focused on adolescents and other marginalized groups, FP during the COVID-era, data collection and use, preparedness and localization, and quality of care.(read less)

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FHI 360

Documenting the Effects of COVID-19 on Family Planning Access and Use with Standardized Questions

Created by the Research for Scalable Solutions project, this resource provides organizations with a set of questions to assess changes in family planning access and use during COVID-19. The survey can be integrated (read more) partially or in full with current data collection methods or studies. The document is available in French and English. Questions included ask about how where and how family planning methods were obtained or not obtained; where and how family planning information was obtained or not obtained; and how COVID-19 has disrupted where and how people access their family planning methods.(read less)

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FP/RH advocates are diligently working to inform local and national governments of policy changes needed to ensure stability of FP/RH care, even when guidelines are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

World Health Organization

Maintaining Essential Health Services: Operational Guidance for the COVID-19 Context

The World Health Organization (WHO) released interim operational guidance originally on March 25, 2020, and published this updated version on June 1, 2020 to meet the ever-changing phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (read more)The guidance document includes practical actions that national, subregional, and local governments can take to maintain high-quality, essential health services. Section 2.1.4 focuses on reproductive health care. The section provides recommended modifications for safe delivery of services and considerations for restoring activities. The document also provides sample monitoring indicators to ensure quality of services.(read less)

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African Journals Online

African Journal of Reproductive Health, Special Edition for COVID-19

The African Journal of Reproductive Health released this special edition for COVID-19 this year. Two of the 18 articles focus on reproductive health. One discusses the impact of COVID-19 on reproductive health in Ethiopia (read more) and makes recommendations for family planning providers and policymakers to maintain the progress Ethiopia has made to date in family planning care. The second is an advocacy piece urging country governments to remain focused on reproductive health care. The authors write about lessons learned from other epidemics, like Ebola, when governments reduced investment and resources in family planning. The other articles feature an array of topics from community-based primary health care, to rights of health care workers, and indigenous knowledge to inform interventions. (read less)

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Humanitarian Cycle

High-Impact Practices in Family Planning (HIPs). Family Planning in Humanitarian Settings: A Strategic Planning Guide

This strategic planning guide leads national and subnational decision-makers through a strategic process to identify actions that improve family planning access in places at risk of, experiencing, and recovering from crisis events. (read more) The document is broader than COVID-19, but the recommended actions are still relevant and are derived from experiences faced by experts in the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery fields. Recommendations include reviewing policies and laws to minimize disruption in family planning care, training health workers and non-traditional actors on providing family planning care in the midst of a crisis, and preparing the supply chains for emergencies. The page also links to a webinar on the same topic held in June 2020. (read less)

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