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November 30, 2011

At family planning plenary, youth’s messages captivate audience

Sarah Lindsay

For the 2,200 delegates at the International Conference on Family Planning, the opening plenary featured the president of Senegal and the head of the United Nations Population Fund. But it was two youth leaders who stole the show.

The featured speakers included international dignitaries, headlined by the president of Senegal, but the younger leaders made a dramatic plea with an adamant demand: involve youth in family planning decision making.

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November 29, 2011

Investing in family planning: Funds needed from all sources

Sarah Lindsay

At the International Conference on Family Planning, one of the major issues is who will pay for new initiatives. One answer: Both developing and developed countries.

For Senegal’s Minister of Health and Prevention, Moudou Diagne Fada, family planning isn’t just a matter that affects his ministry. It’s an issue that has a major impact on Senegal’s future, he said.

“At the end of the day, family planning is a development issue,” Fada said at a press conference today at the International Family Planning Conference, adding that it touches on education, employment, and economics.

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November 29, 2011

Researching the true cost of Senegal’s maternal health plan

Sarah Lindsay

The 2011 International Conference on Family Planning is being held from November 29 to December 2 in Dakar, Senegal. During the week, MLI will be posting live blogs from the sessions and events around the conference. This morning, MLI was able to meet with health economist and MLI consultant Justin Tine for an update on a study he is currently working on about the removal of user fees for maternal health services. 

In order for policymakers to make the best choices, they need evidence of what works. That is why Senegalese health economist Justin Tine has been working for the past six months on a study about removing user fees for all maternal health care services in Senegal.

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October 14, 2011

Senegalese government supporting ‘small revolution’ in family planning

Sarah Lindsay

In 1990, the average Senegalese woman had 6.7 children during her reproductive years. By 2009, that number had significantly dropped. According to the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Senegalese women are now, on average, having 4.8 children during their reproductive years. This reduction, taking place over a span of almost 20 years, has been a long time coming as the Senegalese government has been encouraging family planning utilization across the country in state-run hospitals and clinics. In fact, the Ministry of Health and Prevention has doubled its budget for reproductive health. And within the reproductive health budget, UNFPA reports that the proportion donated to family planning has also been doubled.

Attitudes around family planning use are changing across Senegal, IRIN news reports. “There is a small revolution going on - husbands and imams who were traditionally against any kind of family planning are slowly starting to accept it,” said Ephie Diouf, 31, a child-minder in Dakar. Not only have some religious leaders’ individual attitudes changed, but their outreach to the community regarding family planning is also evolving. Catholic and Muslim leaders are educating people that spacing births by using contraceptives is not against the Bible or the Koran. A midwife from Senegal reported that her local imam now tells families that, “Family planning is not banned in Islam… Religion is about well-being, and spacing children is part of that.”

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August 23, 2011

Senior women help young women in Senegal

Sarah Lindsay

Maimouna Mbengue is a grandmother in Senegal and like most grandmothers she passes on traditions and gives advice to her family. Unlike most grandmothers though, Mbengue is part of the Bajenu Gox Initiative, President Abdoulye Wade’s community based health worker program which trains women to be leaders in reproductive health. The name of the initiative is a reference to the deep tradition of solidarity between the young women and the old women that is known as bajenu gox.

Mbengue told NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in an article appearing last week about her work, "We talk about the different health care priorities and problems our families face. And with the help of the health professionals in our community, we learn to adopt a more useful approach to tackle any problems."

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