Increasing Use of Postpartum Family Planning and the Postpartum IUD: Early Experiences in West and Central Africa

Glob Health Sci Pract. 2016 Aug 18;4 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S140-52. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-16-00039. Print 2016 Aug 11.


A global resurgence of interest in the intrauterine device (IUD) as an effective long-acting reversible contraceptive and in improving access to a wide range of contraceptive methods, as well as an emphasis on encouraging women to give birth in health care facilities, has led programs to introduce postpartum IUD (PPIUD) services into postpartum family planning (PPFP) programs. We describe strategic, organizational, and technical elements that contributed to early successes of a regional initiative in West and Central Africa to train antenatal, maternity, and postnatal care providers in PPFP counseling for the full range of available methods and in PPIUD service delivery. In November 2013, the initiative provided competency-based training in Guinea for providers from the main public teaching hospital in 5 selected countries (Benin, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal) with no prior PPFP counseling or PPIUD capacity. The training was followed by a transfer-of-learning visit and monitoring to support the trained providers. One additional country, Togo, replicated the initiative's model in 2014. Although nascent, this initiative has introduced high-quality PPFP and PPIUD services to the region, where less than 1% of married women of reproductive age use the IUD. In total, 21 providers were trained in PPFP counseling, 18 of whom were also trained in PPIUD insertion. From 2014 to 2015, more than 15,000 women were counseled about PPFP, and 2,269 women chose and received the PPIUD in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Niger, Senegal, and Togo. (Introduction of PPIUD services in Chad has been delayed.) South-South collaboration has been central to the initiative's accomplishments: Guinea's clinical centers of excellence and qualified trainers provided a culturally resonant example of a PPFP/PPIUD program, and trainings are creating a network of regional trainers to facilitate expansion. Two of the selected countries (Benin and Niger) have expanded their PPFP/PPUID training programs to additional sites. Inspired after learning about the initiative at a regional meeting, Togo has outperformed the original countries involved in the initiative by training more providers than the other countries. Challenges to scale-up include a lack of formal channels for reporting PPFP and PPIUD service delivery outcomes, inconsistent coordination of services across the reproductive health continuum of care, and slow uptake in some countries. Continued success will rely on careful recordkeeping, regular monitoring and feedback, and strategic data use to advocate scale-up.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Central
  • Africa, Western
  • Clinical Competence
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Counseling / education
  • Developing Countries
  • Family Planning Services / education
  • Family Planning Services / standards
  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Intrauterine Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Program Evaluation