By Zuhal Sharp, Rotary Service and Engagement staff
With 13,500 worldwide members, the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development (RFPD) has the largest membership of any action group. RFPD assists with projects addressing the intersection of unsustainable development, human suffering, and overpopulation, such as access to health services. The group also maintains information on population and development projects that clubs/districts can help sponsor. Examples of their work include:
- Rotary Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Obstetric Quality Assurance (OQA) Program –RFPD has been working for more than 20 years to promote a sustainable reduction in maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. Through a developed web platform, the comprehensive approach to maintaining a high level of quality in Obstetric care was first implemented in a pilot project in ten hospitals of Nigeria (2005-2010) and, after initial success, expanded to 25 hospitals in five states – Kano, Kaduna, FCT Abuja, Ondo) and Enugu . By providing assistance and consultation in administering obstetric care, and in achieving compliance with Nigerian Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response-Guidelines, the project has significantly strengthened the Nigerian health system and improved maternal and child health in the country. Since 2010, the rate of maternal mortality has declined by an average of 37% in participating hospitals. The contraceptive use rate has increased by an average of 10% in participating states during the same time period.
Over the 2017-18 Rotary year, the innovative web-platform was expanded to include a total of 65 hospitals and three additional states—Anambra, Ebonyi and Osun. Through the project state ministries of health received help in converting to a system of digital data collection, allowing for a systematic analysis of obstetric data and the formulation of evidence based response measures. Hundreds of doctors, nurses, midwives and Medical Record Officers received further training in web-based data collection, family planning service provision and stock management. And lastly, 17,000 sanitary birth kits, 15,000 long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets (LLINs) and 1,500 LNG-IUS contraceptive devices were distributed. Throughout the project, RFPD assisted in project planning and implementation by answering district partners’ inquiries and assisting with Global Grant applications.
- Postpartum and Post Miscarriage Family Planning in Pakistan – This ongoing project aims to increase use of contraceptives from 5.5% (2013) to 30% among women delivering in the hospital or undergoing management for incomplete miscarriage. Direct beneficiaries of the project are about 3,500 women who seek antenatal care. In addition to these patients, the health personnel working in the hospital (9 doctors and one health supervisor) as well as 23 health workers underwent training at the Gizri Maternity Hospital (GMH) in providing family planning services and antenatal care. The RAG worked with local Rotary clubs to initiate, co-fund, and support the project using their 20 years of experience and helped draft the Global Grant applications. RFPD seeks to expand the project into Ethiopia and other countries throughout the upcoming year.
- Awaken Afghanistan – This project seeks to work with Rotary clubs in both the United States and Afghanistan to establish more Saheli Centers for Women, expanding RFPD’s current vocational training/literacy/hygiene program and adding computer classes and family planning workshops. The program will also improve sanitation by adding new latrines and handwashing facilities at the Quala-e-Malakh School and Behsood Health Clinic in Afghanistan. Finally, it will help equip and staff the clinic’s new Maternal and Child Care Unit. RFPD has initiated, co-funded, and supported this project based on the established and currently operating Saheli centers in India and Nigeria. The project has been carried out through a partnership with Rotary Districts 6960 and 2430 along with AWAKEN (Afghan Women and Kids Education and Necessities).
Interested in partnering with RFPD on maternal and child health projects? Join the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development at their summit on Maternal and Child Health in Hamburg on 31 May 2019, 17:00 – 21:00 at the Handwerkskammer Hamburg. Space is limited; to register, please send an email expressing your interest to email@example.com.
The focus of the summit will be the Nationwide Family Planning Campaign in Nigeria, an RFPD-supported initiative financed by clubs and districts from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Nigeria, co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. This MCH summit provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the family planning campaign in Nigeria – directly from the project team – and to see expert presentations on population growth, family planning, women’s empowerment and ethics.