Increasing Institutional Ownership and Making an Impact in Reproductive Health

Katie Martin

Senior Project Associate

Lourdes de la Peza

Principal Technical Advisor on Management and Leadership

Bernard Zikanga and Anicia Filda during the LDP+ TOT. Photo: Richard Mugenyi, RHU Communication and Public Relations Coordinator

Bernard Zikanga and Anicia Filda during the LDP+ TOT. Photos: Richard Mugenyi, RHU Communication and Public Relations Coordinator

Despite improvements in recent years, significant challenges persist regarding access to reproductive health and family planning services across sub-Saharan Africa to prevent unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality, among other things.  To address these realities, I am currently on my way back from visiting Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), a Member Association and designated “Learning Center” of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). During the long hours flying back home, I have had time to reflect upon the week and savor the impressive results RHU is demonstrating in regards to improving access to family planning and reproductive health services.

Management Sciences for Health and IPPF, through the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance Project, are currently working with three IPPF Learning Centers to deliver and scale-up the Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+). By strengthening leadership, management, and governance practices, local partners aim to meet their health goals more effectively, including reducing the occurrence of unintended pregnancies and associated maternal mortality.

Last March, LMG staff delivered a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop to 14 future LDP+ facilitators from RHU. Once trained, these individuals will then be able to then deliver the LDP+ to further IPPF Member Associations and other organizations. During May, the recently trained facilitators delivered six of these five-day LDP+ trainings to the RHU Head office and the Mbarara, Kapchorwa, Lira, Gulu and Katego branches.  These dedicated health professionals transformed from excellent ToT participants to skilled facilitators in just under two months!

From students to facilitators

The new facilitators expressed a feeling of pride and excitement upon observing how well the LDP+ program was received by their participants. Despite the multiple demands of their jobs, participants stayed focused during the entire week of the program and were highly engaged during the training. Participants highlighted the unique nature of this training, and shared a sense of empowerment when analyzing their own work challenges. The opportunity to then propose their own solutions independently instilled a sense of institutional ownership. This feeling was shared by all members of the staff, from health service delivery professionals, to administrative and facility support staff. One of the participants reiterated this fact, sharing that “The cleaning lady was thrilled when she was recognized to be the leader of the cleanliness of the clinic with a critical role in the health and satisfaction of clients.” It is this inclusive nature of the LDP+ that makes every member of the staff feel like a valued member of the group contributing to the same goal.

Technically speaking, the LDP+ process helped RHU to identify a number of service provision areas in which they wanted to see an improvement. Staff members expressed particular concern about high rates of adolescence pregnancies, STDs, and unsafe abortions among other things. As a result, RHU developed implementation plans to achieve the following results:

  1. Increase the number of reproductive health services offered
  2. Increase the number of youth receiving reproductive health services
  3. Increase screening and treatment of STD
  4. Increase Cervical Cancer screening
  5. Decrease stock outs of contraceptives

Demeter Namuyobo during the LDP+ TOT. Photo: Richard Mugenyi, RHU Communication and Public Relations Coordinator.During the following six months, RHU will implement these plans and present their results at a meeting in December. To provide support to the teams, the RHU facilitators will provide continual coaching to guide them through the process, and follow-up to organize a mid-term meeting to share successes, best practices, and implementation difficulties.

Here at LMG, we are expecting great results from RHU as they continue the roll-out of the LDP+. But while obtaining impressive results in 6 branches is great, we must not stop there. Therefore, LMG is replicating this LDP+ process with IPPF learning centers in Ghana and Cameroon. This year alone, we have trained 45 new LDP+ facilitators in sub-Saharan Africa who will be able to expand the program. As a result, a critical mass of teams will be using their newly-found leadership and management skills to improve reproductive health services in their facilities.

During 2015, we expect that the IPPF Learning Centers in Uganda, Ghana, and Cameroon will expand the LDP+ to all facilities within their institutional reach, and then continue by offering the program to other institutions in the region.

This will ensure that the LDP+ and its impressive results have an impact on reproductive health coverage throughout all of Sub-Saharan Africa.