Family Planning, HIV, Costed Planning, and Domestic Resources Take Center Stage as HP+ Closes Work in the West Africa Region
The Health Policy Plus (HP+) project in West Africa, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), held an end-of-project event June 24 in Lomé, Togo, to highlight the impact of HP+ West Africa’s activities in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo, Benin, and Guinea. The event included formal presentations from HP+ leaders and key stakeholders, videos showcasing the work accomplished, and gallery visits of posters illustrating results. Panel discussions throughout the event discussed in greater detail topics including costed implementation plans for family planning, domestic resource mobilization, and partnerships with youth, religious leaders, community champions, and key populations.
Dignitaries speaking at the gathering of about 65 people, plus 50 participants who attended virtually, included Modibo Maiga, regional director of HP+ West Africa; Midamegbé Akakpo, director of Togo’s Cabinet of the Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Access to Care; Ronald E. Hawkins, chargé d’affaires of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Togo; Marie Ba, director of the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit; Ali Sani, director of Health Planning and Information and representative of the Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO); and Dr. Suneeta Sharma, vice president of health and global director of HP+, based in Washington, DC.
Marie Ba told the gathering that the HP+ goals in the region were far-reaching and made it possible to accelerate results. “Our common goal to reposition family planning and to advance maternal and child health indicators was very ambitious… [To have] a partner like HP+ made it possible to substantially improve the enabling environment, which was previously neglected in terms of financing. These are the results that allowed us to advocate for the increase of domestic financing for the repositioning of family planning.”
Four themes were the focus of discussions on lessons learned and results achieved:
- Advocacy alliances to advance policy implementation
- Costed implementation plans to spur action, measurement and transparency in activities undertaken
- Mobilizing domestic funding for family planning and HIV, including working with the private sector
- Sustainability through partnerships
Several speakers provided evidence of the impact of HP+’s work. Ida Kagoné, HP+ country director in Burkina Faso, said: “At the start of this project, we were at less than 18 percent contraceptive prevalence for family planning. And today, we are pleased to say, we are at nearly 30 percent contraceptive prevalence.” Also speaking of family planning, Marie Ba congratulated the HP+ team, saying “the Costed Implementation Plan [is] a planning tool, a tool for advocacy and resource mobilization, which has, in our region, become an incontestably essential tool for the repositioning of family planning.”
Dr. Abram Agossou, director of Maternal and Child Health of Togo, said: “The Health Policy Plus project effectively helped the Directorate of Maternal and Child Health in the implementation of its strategic plan. With the support of this project, a team of actors was trained in advocacy and thanks to the project, a policy document outlining the delegation of tasks was developed to increase the population’s access to family planning methods.”
HP+ West Africa has also made a lasting impact through its HIV activities. Professor Vincent Palokinam Pitche, national coordinator of the National Council for the Fight against AIDS and STIs, said: “The project supported the government and the Council in policies for HIV screening, including early detection and treatment… Above all, it supported the civil aspect, especially community health agents, by strengthening [their] capacity. It also allowed for the implementation of HIV [response] to support communities.”
Dr. Sharma noted that HP+ always works in collaboration and with a local lens. “The activities vary country by country, but similar factors have spurred change. One of these is the creation of effective stakeholder alliances comprising government, donors, and civil society, which have propelled family planning and HIV into the region’s policy agenda… These local capacities enable stakeholders to [work] across sectors to facilitate and implement evidence-based strategies and cultivate new supporters in government and the private sector. With this locally led approach, stakeholders are well-positioned to continue to advance family planning and HIV programming in West Africa.”
Additional coverage of this event is available in French: