Midwife Sophia Abrafi sits at her desk, sorting her paperwork before another patient comes in looking for family planning services. The 40-year-old midwife welcomes each patient with a warm smile and when she talks, her passion for her work is clear.
At the Mim Health Centre, which is located in the Ahafo Region of Ghana, Abrafi says a sexual and reproductive health and right (SRHR) project through Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) and the Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA) allows her to offer comprehensive SRH services to those in the community, especially young people.
Before the project, launched in 2018, she used to have to refer people to a town about 20 minutes away for comprehensive abortion care. She had also seen many women coming in for post abortion care service after trying to self-administer an abortion.
“It was causing a lot of harm in this community...those cases were a lot, they will get pregnant, and they themselves will try to abort.”
Providing care & services to young people
Through the clinic, she speaks to young people about their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“Those who can’t [abstain] we offer them family planning services, so at least they can complete their schooling.”
Offering these services is crucial in Mim, she says, because often young people are not aware of sexual and reproductive health risks.
“Some of them will even get pregnant in the first attempt, so at least explaining to the person what it is, what she should do, or what she should expect in that stage -is very helpful.”
She has already seen progress.
“The young ones are coming. If the first one will come and you provide the service, she will go and inform the friends, and the friends will come.”
Hairdresser Jennifer Osei, who is waiting to see Abrafi, is a testament to this. She did not learn about family planning at school. After a friend told her about the clinic, she has begun relying on staff like Abrafi to educate her.
“I have come to take a family planning injection, it is my first time taking the injection. I have given birth to one child, and I don’t want to have many children now,” she says.
Expanding services in Mim
The SRHR project is working in three other clinics or health centres in Mim, including at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Hospital.
When midwife Sherifa, 28, heard about the SRHR project coming to Mim, she knew it would help her hospital better help the community. The hospital was only offering care for pregnancy complications and did little family planning work. Now, it is supplied with a range of family planning commodities, and the ability to do comprehensive abortion care, as well as education on SRHR.
Being able to offer these services especially helps school girls to prevent unintended pregnancies and to continue at school, she says.
Sherifa also already sees success from this project, with young people now coming in for services, education and treatment of STIs. In the long term, she predicts many positive changes.
“STI infection rates will decrease, teenage pregnancies will decrease, unsafe abortions and deaths as a result of unsafe abortions will decrease. The young people will now have more information about their sexual life in this community, as a result of the project.”