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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

Humanitarian response team, Fiji.
Story

In pictures: Humanitarian photographers share their experiences of storytelling in the field

IPPF’s localized approach to humanitarian emergencies is led by our Member Associations' response teams and whenever possible, we deploy local photographers.
Doctor
story

| 24 June 2021

Changing mindsets through medicine and motivation

“You work with people who have HIV? Why?” That was the question Dr. Gregory Boyce was asked by the young intern that stood before him. He had come to the hospital ward to visit a client who was known to be living with HIV. He approached the intern at the desk and gave his name and designation. The intern looked at him, confused and somewhat amused and asked the question that he has neither forgotten, nor understood to this day.   However, this young intern’s question comes from a mindset that Dr. Boyce is working fervently to change. As Deputy Director of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRF), Dr. Boyce provides clinical and administrative support to a team of doctors and nurses providing care to their clients who are living with HIV. Due to MRF’s long-standing work in HIV research and healthcare, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), has referred many clients to Dr. Boyce and his team, and especially clients from the LGBTI+ community.   Providing specialist care and support  “Persons coming to us from key populations, have very layered needs. They are facing unique challenges in addition to living with the virus. There is still that myth that being HIV positive means that you will positively die. Added to that, there’s the discrimination that the community faces in every aspect of their lives on a daily basis. As a staff, we’ve had to seek special training to guide the way we interact with these clients so that we can meet all their needs appropriately and sensitively,” explains Dr. Boyce.   “Apart from medical interventions which are needed to ensure that our clients continue to live healthy lives, we focus heavily on their psychosocial needs. It’s easy to think that because a client is physically healthy that they are also emotionally healthy. We have clients that won’t leave abusive relationships because they think no one else would accept them. We have other clients that are dealing with long-term medication fatigue because they have been taking pills for over 10 years. With that sometimes comes depression and other drug addictions, which is why it’s necessary for us to maintain open and honest relationships to address those accompanying issues.”  Making HIV a non-issue  Dr Boyce has been committed to providing treatment and care to clients living with HIV for over 20 years. He had worked at the Port of Spain General Hospital after graduating, during which time, medicine for persons living with HIV was expensive and out of reach for many. A few years later, through government programmes, medicine became more affordable, and treatment centres were opening up across the island. However, Dr. Boyce realized that the mortality rate had not changed by much. He wondered why people were still dying from a virus when medicine was easily accessible.   “That first conversation – giving a client the news that they’ve tested positive – is very important. We get to show them that HIV is not an impediment. Most times, with the wrong information, they start to draw up a list of things that they can no longer do, like go after a promotion or start a family. Then they go through life shrunken and unrecognizable, not the person they once were. So to answer that intern’s question about why I work with persons living with HIV: I want to make HIV a non-issue,” he states.    Dr. Boyce hopes to see HIV disclosure become as acceptable as other chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, where an entire family would work towards caring for the affected person, instead of alienating them. He also hopes to see more inclusion and tolerance towards persons living with HIV, especially those within the LGBTI+ community.   “Until a gay or transgender person can walk the streets freely and not be jeered at by passers-by, we still have a long way to go. Until they can access treatment at any public facility without fear or judgment, we have a lot of work to do. It would take a lot of education to change the stigma and discrimination but there is absolutely no reason why another person’s life should be miserable because their expression is different to ours.”   He commends the work of FPATT in upholding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the LGBTI+ community, through ensuring that they have a safe and non-judgmental environment for treatment and care. He says that the Medical Research Foundation values the great relationship that the two organizations have had for years, even as FPATT works towards becoming its own full-service antiretroviral treatment site for persons living with HIV.    

Doctor
story

| 27 May 2022

Changing mindsets through medicine and motivation

“You work with people who have HIV? Why?” That was the question Dr. Gregory Boyce was asked by the young intern that stood before him. He had come to the hospital ward to visit a client who was known to be living with HIV. He approached the intern at the desk and gave his name and designation. The intern looked at him, confused and somewhat amused and asked the question that he has neither forgotten, nor understood to this day.   However, this young intern’s question comes from a mindset that Dr. Boyce is working fervently to change. As Deputy Director of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRF), Dr. Boyce provides clinical and administrative support to a team of doctors and nurses providing care to their clients who are living with HIV. Due to MRF’s long-standing work in HIV research and healthcare, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), has referred many clients to Dr. Boyce and his team, and especially clients from the LGBTI+ community.   Providing specialist care and support  “Persons coming to us from key populations, have very layered needs. They are facing unique challenges in addition to living with the virus. There is still that myth that being HIV positive means that you will positively die. Added to that, there’s the discrimination that the community faces in every aspect of their lives on a daily basis. As a staff, we’ve had to seek special training to guide the way we interact with these clients so that we can meet all their needs appropriately and sensitively,” explains Dr. Boyce.   “Apart from medical interventions which are needed to ensure that our clients continue to live healthy lives, we focus heavily on their psychosocial needs. It’s easy to think that because a client is physically healthy that they are also emotionally healthy. We have clients that won’t leave abusive relationships because they think no one else would accept them. We have other clients that are dealing with long-term medication fatigue because they have been taking pills for over 10 years. With that sometimes comes depression and other drug addictions, which is why it’s necessary for us to maintain open and honest relationships to address those accompanying issues.”  Making HIV a non-issue  Dr Boyce has been committed to providing treatment and care to clients living with HIV for over 20 years. He had worked at the Port of Spain General Hospital after graduating, during which time, medicine for persons living with HIV was expensive and out of reach for many. A few years later, through government programmes, medicine became more affordable, and treatment centres were opening up across the island. However, Dr. Boyce realized that the mortality rate had not changed by much. He wondered why people were still dying from a virus when medicine was easily accessible.   “That first conversation – giving a client the news that they’ve tested positive – is very important. We get to show them that HIV is not an impediment. Most times, with the wrong information, they start to draw up a list of things that they can no longer do, like go after a promotion or start a family. Then they go through life shrunken and unrecognizable, not the person they once were. So to answer that intern’s question about why I work with persons living with HIV: I want to make HIV a non-issue,” he states.    Dr. Boyce hopes to see HIV disclosure become as acceptable as other chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, where an entire family would work towards caring for the affected person, instead of alienating them. He also hopes to see more inclusion and tolerance towards persons living with HIV, especially those within the LGBTI+ community.   “Until a gay or transgender person can walk the streets freely and not be jeered at by passers-by, we still have a long way to go. Until they can access treatment at any public facility without fear or judgment, we have a lot of work to do. It would take a lot of education to change the stigma and discrimination but there is absolutely no reason why another person’s life should be miserable because their expression is different to ours.”   He commends the work of FPATT in upholding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the LGBTI+ community, through ensuring that they have a safe and non-judgmental environment for treatment and care. He says that the Medical Research Foundation values the great relationship that the two organizations have had for years, even as FPATT works towards becoming its own full-service antiretroviral treatment site for persons living with HIV.    

Healthcare worker
story

| 24 June 2021

Ensuring care for Trinidad and Tobago's LGBTI+ community

Public perceptions, a lack of education, and government policies contribute to the barriers and challenges to achieving equality for all. In a country as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, this is especially acute for certain key populations, including the LGBTI+ community.  For Brandy Rodriguez, Healthcare Navigator at the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), the struggle is both real and personal. In 1999, Brandy began her transition to womanhood and since 2006 has been working with FPATT in their HIV programme for the LGBTI+ community.    “Back in 2004, very little was said about HIV infection, transmission and prevention. In fact, if there was any information, it was misconstrued and meant to stigmatize the LGBTI+ community. I was fairly new to the transgender community, so I made it a mission to research and find out the truths behind HIV and how I could protect myself. I then felt like I had to share what I found with others who were searching as well,” she said.  Overcoming prejudice and stigma   That’s when FPATT asked Brandy to join their team in educating the LGBTI+ community on the types of healthcare available. Stigma surrounding the community forced many to stay hidden and avoid seeking care. Even if a member of the LGBTI+ community wanted to test for their HIV status, they would never dare to go into a public health centre, because of the fear of being judged by the healthcare professionals.    “It’s a simple case of this. When a transgender or non-binary person walks into a health centre or hospital, and the triage nurse has to fill in a form that asks for gender, the only two options there are male and female. So usually, the non-binary person knows that if they want to access that healthcare, free of judgement, they would have to dress as the gender that would bring less attention. At the end of the day, the healthcare provider does not receive accurate information about the client, and the client doesn’t receive the scope of assessment and treatment that may be necessary. So part of what I do, is to simply accompany the client to the appointment so that it’s a less stressful experience and they don’t feel like they are alone,” says Brandy.   The importance of access to HIV treatment and care Apart from a great lack of healthcare professionals that are willing to treat the LGBTI+ community non-judgementally, the community also lacks social support. Most of the members of the community face barriers to housing and employment, which often means earning a livelihood through sex work. Over 95% of skilled and employable persons within the LGBTI+ community have turned to sex work because they are constantly denied employment within other industries.   “When I began my transition, I was fortunate to have the support of my family; they understood my heart and my need to be my authentic self. Not everyone has that support and so some either migrate or are left homeless because of the fact. Having to work within the sex industry means that they are now at greater risk for HIV or other STIs. My job as an Educator and Navigator is to promote condom use and ensure that they make use of FPATT’s regular HIV testing. If they do test positive, we then have that conversation about U=U, which means that if they [their HIV viral load] are undetectable, they will be untransferable, and then get them to that place of undetectability.”    Brandy explains that being undetectable means that the client’s viral load is suppressed, and they are living healthy lives. The team works hard to ensure clients living with HIV enrol in the FPATT Programme, which supports the importance of adhering to consistent treatment, healthy eating, and rest. As well as testing, the Programme offers sexual and reproductive health education on prevention against STIs and both group and one-to-one sessions to anyone who needs it.  Advocating for support  FPATT has, for many years, advocated for the sexual and reproductive rights of the LGBTI+ community, ensuring that it remains a safe place for HIV testing and counselling. It holds a vision of a world where gender or sexuality are no longer a source of inequality or stigma.   FPATT is poised to become a full-service HIV treatment site, offering antiretroviral treatment as well as psychosocial services for persons affected by HIV. FPATT’s goal is to stop discrimination and stigma against persons living with HIV and ultimately end the spread of HIV within Trinidad and Tobago by 2030.    

Healthcare worker
story

| 27 May 2022

Ensuring care for Trinidad and Tobago's LGBTI+ community

Public perceptions, a lack of education, and government policies contribute to the barriers and challenges to achieving equality for all. In a country as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, this is especially acute for certain key populations, including the LGBTI+ community.  For Brandy Rodriguez, Healthcare Navigator at the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), the struggle is both real and personal. In 1999, Brandy began her transition to womanhood and since 2006 has been working with FPATT in their HIV programme for the LGBTI+ community.    “Back in 2004, very little was said about HIV infection, transmission and prevention. In fact, if there was any information, it was misconstrued and meant to stigmatize the LGBTI+ community. I was fairly new to the transgender community, so I made it a mission to research and find out the truths behind HIV and how I could protect myself. I then felt like I had to share what I found with others who were searching as well,” she said.  Overcoming prejudice and stigma   That’s when FPATT asked Brandy to join their team in educating the LGBTI+ community on the types of healthcare available. Stigma surrounding the community forced many to stay hidden and avoid seeking care. Even if a member of the LGBTI+ community wanted to test for their HIV status, they would never dare to go into a public health centre, because of the fear of being judged by the healthcare professionals.    “It’s a simple case of this. When a transgender or non-binary person walks into a health centre or hospital, and the triage nurse has to fill in a form that asks for gender, the only two options there are male and female. So usually, the non-binary person knows that if they want to access that healthcare, free of judgement, they would have to dress as the gender that would bring less attention. At the end of the day, the healthcare provider does not receive accurate information about the client, and the client doesn’t receive the scope of assessment and treatment that may be necessary. So part of what I do, is to simply accompany the client to the appointment so that it’s a less stressful experience and they don’t feel like they are alone,” says Brandy.   The importance of access to HIV treatment and care Apart from a great lack of healthcare professionals that are willing to treat the LGBTI+ community non-judgementally, the community also lacks social support. Most of the members of the community face barriers to housing and employment, which often means earning a livelihood through sex work. Over 95% of skilled and employable persons within the LGBTI+ community have turned to sex work because they are constantly denied employment within other industries.   “When I began my transition, I was fortunate to have the support of my family; they understood my heart and my need to be my authentic self. Not everyone has that support and so some either migrate or are left homeless because of the fact. Having to work within the sex industry means that they are now at greater risk for HIV or other STIs. My job as an Educator and Navigator is to promote condom use and ensure that they make use of FPATT’s regular HIV testing. If they do test positive, we then have that conversation about U=U, which means that if they [their HIV viral load] are undetectable, they will be untransferable, and then get them to that place of undetectability.”    Brandy explains that being undetectable means that the client’s viral load is suppressed, and they are living healthy lives. The team works hard to ensure clients living with HIV enrol in the FPATT Programme, which supports the importance of adhering to consistent treatment, healthy eating, and rest. As well as testing, the Programme offers sexual and reproductive health education on prevention against STIs and both group and one-to-one sessions to anyone who needs it.  Advocating for support  FPATT has, for many years, advocated for the sexual and reproductive rights of the LGBTI+ community, ensuring that it remains a safe place for HIV testing and counselling. It holds a vision of a world where gender or sexuality are no longer a source of inequality or stigma.   FPATT is poised to become a full-service HIV treatment site, offering antiretroviral treatment as well as psychosocial services for persons affected by HIV. FPATT’s goal is to stop discrimination and stigma against persons living with HIV and ultimately end the spread of HIV within Trinidad and Tobago by 2030.    

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 27 May 2022

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Midwife Rewda Kedir examines a newborn baby and mother in a health center outside of Jimma, Ethiopia
story

| 16 July 2020

"Before, there was no safe abortion"

Rewda Kedir works as a midwife in a rural area of the Oromia region in southwest Ethiopia. Only 14% of married women are using any method of contraception here.  The government hospital Rewda works in is supported to provide a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, which includes providing free contraceptives and comprehensive abortion care. In January 2017, the maternal healthcare clinic faced shortages of contraceptives after the US administration reactivated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which does not allow any funding to go to organizations associated with providing abortion care. Fortunately in this case, the shortages only lasted a month due to the government of the Netherlands stepping in and matching lost funding. “Before, we had a shortage of contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptives. We would have to give people prescriptions and they would go to private clinics and where they had to pay," Rewda tells us. "When I first came to this clinic, there was a real shortage of people trained in family planning. I was the only one. Now there are many people trained on family planning, and when I’m not here, people can help." "There used to be a shortage of choice and alternatives, and now there are many. And the implant procedures are better because there are newer products that are much smaller so putting them in is less invasive.” Opening a dialogue on contraception  The hospital has been providing medical abortions for six years. “Before, there was no safe abortion," says Rewda. She explains how people would go to 'traditional' healers and then come to the clinic with complications like sepsis, bleeding, anaemia and toxic shock. If they had complications or infections above nine weeks, Rewda and her colleagues would send them to Jimma, the regional capital. "Before, it was very difficult to persuade them to use family planning, and we had to have a lot of conversations. Now, they come 45 days after delivery to speak to us about this and get their babies immunised," she explains. "They want contraceptives to space out their children. Sometimes their husbands don’t like them coming to get family planning so we have to lock their appointment cards away. Their husbands want more children and they think that women who do not keep having their children will go with other men." "More kids, more wealth" Rewda tells us that they've used family counselling to try and persuade men to reconsider their ideas about contraception, by explaining to them that continuously giving birth under unsafe circumstances can affect a woman's health and might lead to maternal death, damage the uterus and lead to long-term complications. "Here, people believe that more kids means more wealth, and religion restricts family planning services. Before, they did not have good training on family planning and abortion. Now, women that have abortions get proper care and the counseling and education has improved. There are still unsafe abortions but they have really reduced. We used to see about 40 a year and now it’s one or two." However, problems still exist. "There are some complications, like irregular bleeding from some contraceptives," Rewda says, and that "women still face conflict with their husbands over family planning and sometimes have to go to court to fight this or divorce them.”

Midwife Rewda Kedir examines a newborn baby and mother in a health center outside of Jimma, Ethiopia
story

| 27 May 2022

"Before, there was no safe abortion"

Rewda Kedir works as a midwife in a rural area of the Oromia region in southwest Ethiopia. Only 14% of married women are using any method of contraception here.  The government hospital Rewda works in is supported to provide a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, which includes providing free contraceptives and comprehensive abortion care. In January 2017, the maternal healthcare clinic faced shortages of contraceptives after the US administration reactivated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which does not allow any funding to go to organizations associated with providing abortion care. Fortunately in this case, the shortages only lasted a month due to the government of the Netherlands stepping in and matching lost funding. “Before, we had a shortage of contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptives. We would have to give people prescriptions and they would go to private clinics and where they had to pay," Rewda tells us. "When I first came to this clinic, there was a real shortage of people trained in family planning. I was the only one. Now there are many people trained on family planning, and when I’m not here, people can help." "There used to be a shortage of choice and alternatives, and now there are many. And the implant procedures are better because there are newer products that are much smaller so putting them in is less invasive.” Opening a dialogue on contraception  The hospital has been providing medical abortions for six years. “Before, there was no safe abortion," says Rewda. She explains how people would go to 'traditional' healers and then come to the clinic with complications like sepsis, bleeding, anaemia and toxic shock. If they had complications or infections above nine weeks, Rewda and her colleagues would send them to Jimma, the regional capital. "Before, it was very difficult to persuade them to use family planning, and we had to have a lot of conversations. Now, they come 45 days after delivery to speak to us about this and get their babies immunised," she explains. "They want contraceptives to space out their children. Sometimes their husbands don’t like them coming to get family planning so we have to lock their appointment cards away. Their husbands want more children and they think that women who do not keep having their children will go with other men." "More kids, more wealth" Rewda tells us that they've used family counselling to try and persuade men to reconsider their ideas about contraception, by explaining to them that continuously giving birth under unsafe circumstances can affect a woman's health and might lead to maternal death, damage the uterus and lead to long-term complications. "Here, people believe that more kids means more wealth, and religion restricts family planning services. Before, they did not have good training on family planning and abortion. Now, women that have abortions get proper care and the counseling and education has improved. There are still unsafe abortions but they have really reduced. We used to see about 40 a year and now it’s one or two." However, problems still exist. "There are some complications, like irregular bleeding from some contraceptives," Rewda says, and that "women still face conflict with their husbands over family planning and sometimes have to go to court to fight this or divorce them.”

チピリ・ムレムフウェさん。資金が途絶えるまで、IPPFザンビア(PPAZ)が実施するUSAIDオープンドア・プロジェクトのサービスデリバリー・マネージャーを務めていた
story

| 08 August 2018

“We are losing precious time"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. “When I lost my job as service delivery manager [at PPAZ USAID's Open Doors project], I felt like a part of me had died, I’m very passionate about this. I look forward to seeing a day where everybody will be free to access health services without stigma and discrimination, especially public health facilities. That’s what I’d like to see, [I] want to see integrated services, being provided to key populations, without stigma and discrimination, and fear of being arrested." The Global Gag Rule The reinstatement of the ‘Global Gag Rule’ resulted in the termination of Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia grant for the USAID Open Doors being terminated.  Chipili says “We didn’t expect its implementation to come with the termination of the grants suddenly. We thought that we were going to be given time, a year, one year to work and complete the project and hand over to the partner that was going to take over the responsibilities that Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia handled.” The termination of the project means progress that has been made, especially the work done to help reduce the number of HIV and STIs cases among the key populations will be undone. Progress, that is desperately needed to meet Zambia’s targets on HIV reduction. “We are losing precious time. We have got targets to meet as a nation, we need to ensure that by 2020 we reach the 90/90 goals, set by UNAIDS, and also the country has a broader vision of eliminating the threat of HIV, HIV as a public threat by 2030. So if we have such stumbling blocks, then the targets might not be met.  And then these key populations are also linked with the general population, we have men who sex with men, they also have partners, some of them are married, and if we don’t get into their networks, HIV and STIs will end up in the general population, therefore putting everybody at risk." Other impacts have been the increased vulnerability and the lost investment of peer promoters from the key populations and loss of safety and security that was provided by the organization.  Loss of safety and security “For safety and security, key populations cannot freely go to facilities they don’t know very well. The clinic setup was the most ideal set up for them. No one would question them, because this is open to everybody. But now what the project is doing, they are renting houses, the USAID is renting houses where they are providing services, so a house is very different from a clinic, that also affects the element of sustainability. The element of sustainability has also been lost because PPAZ has been here for a long time, since 1972, so we were hoping that the project was going to build the capacity for PPAZ to continue providing services to key populations that are free from stigma and discrimination. That has been lost. To me it’s a lost opportunity.” The Zambia National AIDS/HIV Strategic Framework for 2017 to 2021, bears a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind when it comes to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “No one should be left behind, if we are to reduce HIV infections to zero, if this is not done, the dream, the vision will not be achieved, we cannot afford to start pointing fingers, we have to use the public health approach and eliminate the risk of HIV infection amidst our people”.

チピリ・ムレムフウェさん。資金が途絶えるまで、IPPFザンビア(PPAZ)が実施するUSAIDオープンドア・プロジェクトのサービスデリバリー・マネージャーを務めていた
story

| 27 May 2022

“We are losing precious time"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. “When I lost my job as service delivery manager [at PPAZ USAID's Open Doors project], I felt like a part of me had died, I’m very passionate about this. I look forward to seeing a day where everybody will be free to access health services without stigma and discrimination, especially public health facilities. That’s what I’d like to see, [I] want to see integrated services, being provided to key populations, without stigma and discrimination, and fear of being arrested." The Global Gag Rule The reinstatement of the ‘Global Gag Rule’ resulted in the termination of Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia grant for the USAID Open Doors being terminated.  Chipili says “We didn’t expect its implementation to come with the termination of the grants suddenly. We thought that we were going to be given time, a year, one year to work and complete the project and hand over to the partner that was going to take over the responsibilities that Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia handled.” The termination of the project means progress that has been made, especially the work done to help reduce the number of HIV and STIs cases among the key populations will be undone. Progress, that is desperately needed to meet Zambia’s targets on HIV reduction. “We are losing precious time. We have got targets to meet as a nation, we need to ensure that by 2020 we reach the 90/90 goals, set by UNAIDS, and also the country has a broader vision of eliminating the threat of HIV, HIV as a public threat by 2030. So if we have such stumbling blocks, then the targets might not be met.  And then these key populations are also linked with the general population, we have men who sex with men, they also have partners, some of them are married, and if we don’t get into their networks, HIV and STIs will end up in the general population, therefore putting everybody at risk." Other impacts have been the increased vulnerability and the lost investment of peer promoters from the key populations and loss of safety and security that was provided by the organization.  Loss of safety and security “For safety and security, key populations cannot freely go to facilities they don’t know very well. The clinic setup was the most ideal set up for them. No one would question them, because this is open to everybody. But now what the project is doing, they are renting houses, the USAID is renting houses where they are providing services, so a house is very different from a clinic, that also affects the element of sustainability. The element of sustainability has also been lost because PPAZ has been here for a long time, since 1972, so we were hoping that the project was going to build the capacity for PPAZ to continue providing services to key populations that are free from stigma and discrimination. That has been lost. To me it’s a lost opportunity.” The Zambia National AIDS/HIV Strategic Framework for 2017 to 2021, bears a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind when it comes to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “No one should be left behind, if we are to reduce HIV infections to zero, if this is not done, the dream, the vision will not be achieved, we cannot afford to start pointing fingers, we have to use the public health approach and eliminate the risk of HIV infection amidst our people”.

Thomas, 34 years old, former PPAZ peer educator and counsellor
story

| 08 August 2018

"The community really appreciated the services we were offering"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. "My name is Thomas, I’m 34 years old. At PPAZ I worked as a peer educator and counsellor, I used to work on the outreach programmes in the community to offer access to health services like voluntary counselling and testing, we also used to sensitize women on the importance of family planning. We also used to refer women we would find had different problems, to the facilities so they can access health services. We also used to help by giving information on things like HIV prevention and signs and symptoms to look out for.  At other times, since the places were very far, we would take the services from the facilities to where the people were, so PPAZ used to help us do that.  I was at the clinic when they came to tell us that PPAZ would no longer be involved in the project because the funding had been stopped. It was a challenge for us because the services that people had become accustomed to in the communities, HIV counselling and testing services levels reduced because we couldn’t manage to go and take these services to them in the places where they live.  When we worked with PPAZ we used to put condoms in these places for them, in the bars and taverns, and even pool tables. Now that PPAZ is gone, the government cannot meet the supply of condoms needed in these places, even the services can’t be offered on the same scale. Unable to meet needs in rural areas Like you can see here, I look after my grandmother and other family members and that money [peer educators' allowance] used to go a long way in helping us look after our children and buy food, and other things. At the moment it is very difficult. Nyangwena is a very big place, it also includes 14 villages, so there are many people in this area. With the money that we were given through PPAZ, my friend and I would manage to get tyres for a bicycle and go to these places, we’d cycle distances as far as 14Km away. It was very helpful; the community really appreciated the services we were offering because we used to take them to the people. We would be very happy if PPAZ were to start them again because we would really help our communities a great deal with these services. Even school children would go and access them, at the youth-friendly corner twice a week. Information is really needed amongst these school children."

Thomas, 34 years old, former PPAZ peer educator and counsellor
story

| 27 May 2022

"The community really appreciated the services we were offering"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. "My name is Thomas, I’m 34 years old. At PPAZ I worked as a peer educator and counsellor, I used to work on the outreach programmes in the community to offer access to health services like voluntary counselling and testing, we also used to sensitize women on the importance of family planning. We also used to refer women we would find had different problems, to the facilities so they can access health services. We also used to help by giving information on things like HIV prevention and signs and symptoms to look out for.  At other times, since the places were very far, we would take the services from the facilities to where the people were, so PPAZ used to help us do that.  I was at the clinic when they came to tell us that PPAZ would no longer be involved in the project because the funding had been stopped. It was a challenge for us because the services that people had become accustomed to in the communities, HIV counselling and testing services levels reduced because we couldn’t manage to go and take these services to them in the places where they live.  When we worked with PPAZ we used to put condoms in these places for them, in the bars and taverns, and even pool tables. Now that PPAZ is gone, the government cannot meet the supply of condoms needed in these places, even the services can’t be offered on the same scale. Unable to meet needs in rural areas Like you can see here, I look after my grandmother and other family members and that money [peer educators' allowance] used to go a long way in helping us look after our children and buy food, and other things. At the moment it is very difficult. Nyangwena is a very big place, it also includes 14 villages, so there are many people in this area. With the money that we were given through PPAZ, my friend and I would manage to get tyres for a bicycle and go to these places, we’d cycle distances as far as 14Km away. It was very helpful; the community really appreciated the services we were offering because we used to take them to the people. We would be very happy if PPAZ were to start them again because we would really help our communities a great deal with these services. Even school children would go and access them, at the youth-friendly corner twice a week. Information is really needed amongst these school children."

Doctor
story

| 24 June 2021

Changing mindsets through medicine and motivation

“You work with people who have HIV? Why?” That was the question Dr. Gregory Boyce was asked by the young intern that stood before him. He had come to the hospital ward to visit a client who was known to be living with HIV. He approached the intern at the desk and gave his name and designation. The intern looked at him, confused and somewhat amused and asked the question that he has neither forgotten, nor understood to this day.   However, this young intern’s question comes from a mindset that Dr. Boyce is working fervently to change. As Deputy Director of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRF), Dr. Boyce provides clinical and administrative support to a team of doctors and nurses providing care to their clients who are living with HIV. Due to MRF’s long-standing work in HIV research and healthcare, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), has referred many clients to Dr. Boyce and his team, and especially clients from the LGBTI+ community.   Providing specialist care and support  “Persons coming to us from key populations, have very layered needs. They are facing unique challenges in addition to living with the virus. There is still that myth that being HIV positive means that you will positively die. Added to that, there’s the discrimination that the community faces in every aspect of their lives on a daily basis. As a staff, we’ve had to seek special training to guide the way we interact with these clients so that we can meet all their needs appropriately and sensitively,” explains Dr. Boyce.   “Apart from medical interventions which are needed to ensure that our clients continue to live healthy lives, we focus heavily on their psychosocial needs. It’s easy to think that because a client is physically healthy that they are also emotionally healthy. We have clients that won’t leave abusive relationships because they think no one else would accept them. We have other clients that are dealing with long-term medication fatigue because they have been taking pills for over 10 years. With that sometimes comes depression and other drug addictions, which is why it’s necessary for us to maintain open and honest relationships to address those accompanying issues.”  Making HIV a non-issue  Dr Boyce has been committed to providing treatment and care to clients living with HIV for over 20 years. He had worked at the Port of Spain General Hospital after graduating, during which time, medicine for persons living with HIV was expensive and out of reach for many. A few years later, through government programmes, medicine became more affordable, and treatment centres were opening up across the island. However, Dr. Boyce realized that the mortality rate had not changed by much. He wondered why people were still dying from a virus when medicine was easily accessible.   “That first conversation – giving a client the news that they’ve tested positive – is very important. We get to show them that HIV is not an impediment. Most times, with the wrong information, they start to draw up a list of things that they can no longer do, like go after a promotion or start a family. Then they go through life shrunken and unrecognizable, not the person they once were. So to answer that intern’s question about why I work with persons living with HIV: I want to make HIV a non-issue,” he states.    Dr. Boyce hopes to see HIV disclosure become as acceptable as other chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, where an entire family would work towards caring for the affected person, instead of alienating them. He also hopes to see more inclusion and tolerance towards persons living with HIV, especially those within the LGBTI+ community.   “Until a gay or transgender person can walk the streets freely and not be jeered at by passers-by, we still have a long way to go. Until they can access treatment at any public facility without fear or judgment, we have a lot of work to do. It would take a lot of education to change the stigma and discrimination but there is absolutely no reason why another person’s life should be miserable because their expression is different to ours.”   He commends the work of FPATT in upholding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the LGBTI+ community, through ensuring that they have a safe and non-judgmental environment for treatment and care. He says that the Medical Research Foundation values the great relationship that the two organizations have had for years, even as FPATT works towards becoming its own full-service antiretroviral treatment site for persons living with HIV.    

Doctor
story

| 27 May 2022

Changing mindsets through medicine and motivation

“You work with people who have HIV? Why?” That was the question Dr. Gregory Boyce was asked by the young intern that stood before him. He had come to the hospital ward to visit a client who was known to be living with HIV. He approached the intern at the desk and gave his name and designation. The intern looked at him, confused and somewhat amused and asked the question that he has neither forgotten, nor understood to this day.   However, this young intern’s question comes from a mindset that Dr. Boyce is working fervently to change. As Deputy Director of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRF), Dr. Boyce provides clinical and administrative support to a team of doctors and nurses providing care to their clients who are living with HIV. Due to MRF’s long-standing work in HIV research and healthcare, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), has referred many clients to Dr. Boyce and his team, and especially clients from the LGBTI+ community.   Providing specialist care and support  “Persons coming to us from key populations, have very layered needs. They are facing unique challenges in addition to living with the virus. There is still that myth that being HIV positive means that you will positively die. Added to that, there’s the discrimination that the community faces in every aspect of their lives on a daily basis. As a staff, we’ve had to seek special training to guide the way we interact with these clients so that we can meet all their needs appropriately and sensitively,” explains Dr. Boyce.   “Apart from medical interventions which are needed to ensure that our clients continue to live healthy lives, we focus heavily on their psychosocial needs. It’s easy to think that because a client is physically healthy that they are also emotionally healthy. We have clients that won’t leave abusive relationships because they think no one else would accept them. We have other clients that are dealing with long-term medication fatigue because they have been taking pills for over 10 years. With that sometimes comes depression and other drug addictions, which is why it’s necessary for us to maintain open and honest relationships to address those accompanying issues.”  Making HIV a non-issue  Dr Boyce has been committed to providing treatment and care to clients living with HIV for over 20 years. He had worked at the Port of Spain General Hospital after graduating, during which time, medicine for persons living with HIV was expensive and out of reach for many. A few years later, through government programmes, medicine became more affordable, and treatment centres were opening up across the island. However, Dr. Boyce realized that the mortality rate had not changed by much. He wondered why people were still dying from a virus when medicine was easily accessible.   “That first conversation – giving a client the news that they’ve tested positive – is very important. We get to show them that HIV is not an impediment. Most times, with the wrong information, they start to draw up a list of things that they can no longer do, like go after a promotion or start a family. Then they go through life shrunken and unrecognizable, not the person they once were. So to answer that intern’s question about why I work with persons living with HIV: I want to make HIV a non-issue,” he states.    Dr. Boyce hopes to see HIV disclosure become as acceptable as other chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, where an entire family would work towards caring for the affected person, instead of alienating them. He also hopes to see more inclusion and tolerance towards persons living with HIV, especially those within the LGBTI+ community.   “Until a gay or transgender person can walk the streets freely and not be jeered at by passers-by, we still have a long way to go. Until they can access treatment at any public facility without fear or judgment, we have a lot of work to do. It would take a lot of education to change the stigma and discrimination but there is absolutely no reason why another person’s life should be miserable because their expression is different to ours.”   He commends the work of FPATT in upholding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the LGBTI+ community, through ensuring that they have a safe and non-judgmental environment for treatment and care. He says that the Medical Research Foundation values the great relationship that the two organizations have had for years, even as FPATT works towards becoming its own full-service antiretroviral treatment site for persons living with HIV.    

Healthcare worker
story

| 24 June 2021

Ensuring care for Trinidad and Tobago's LGBTI+ community

Public perceptions, a lack of education, and government policies contribute to the barriers and challenges to achieving equality for all. In a country as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, this is especially acute for certain key populations, including the LGBTI+ community.  For Brandy Rodriguez, Healthcare Navigator at the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), the struggle is both real and personal. In 1999, Brandy began her transition to womanhood and since 2006 has been working with FPATT in their HIV programme for the LGBTI+ community.    “Back in 2004, very little was said about HIV infection, transmission and prevention. In fact, if there was any information, it was misconstrued and meant to stigmatize the LGBTI+ community. I was fairly new to the transgender community, so I made it a mission to research and find out the truths behind HIV and how I could protect myself. I then felt like I had to share what I found with others who were searching as well,” she said.  Overcoming prejudice and stigma   That’s when FPATT asked Brandy to join their team in educating the LGBTI+ community on the types of healthcare available. Stigma surrounding the community forced many to stay hidden and avoid seeking care. Even if a member of the LGBTI+ community wanted to test for their HIV status, they would never dare to go into a public health centre, because of the fear of being judged by the healthcare professionals.    “It’s a simple case of this. When a transgender or non-binary person walks into a health centre or hospital, and the triage nurse has to fill in a form that asks for gender, the only two options there are male and female. So usually, the non-binary person knows that if they want to access that healthcare, free of judgement, they would have to dress as the gender that would bring less attention. At the end of the day, the healthcare provider does not receive accurate information about the client, and the client doesn’t receive the scope of assessment and treatment that may be necessary. So part of what I do, is to simply accompany the client to the appointment so that it’s a less stressful experience and they don’t feel like they are alone,” says Brandy.   The importance of access to HIV treatment and care Apart from a great lack of healthcare professionals that are willing to treat the LGBTI+ community non-judgementally, the community also lacks social support. Most of the members of the community face barriers to housing and employment, which often means earning a livelihood through sex work. Over 95% of skilled and employable persons within the LGBTI+ community have turned to sex work because they are constantly denied employment within other industries.   “When I began my transition, I was fortunate to have the support of my family; they understood my heart and my need to be my authentic self. Not everyone has that support and so some either migrate or are left homeless because of the fact. Having to work within the sex industry means that they are now at greater risk for HIV or other STIs. My job as an Educator and Navigator is to promote condom use and ensure that they make use of FPATT’s regular HIV testing. If they do test positive, we then have that conversation about U=U, which means that if they [their HIV viral load] are undetectable, they will be untransferable, and then get them to that place of undetectability.”    Brandy explains that being undetectable means that the client’s viral load is suppressed, and they are living healthy lives. The team works hard to ensure clients living with HIV enrol in the FPATT Programme, which supports the importance of adhering to consistent treatment, healthy eating, and rest. As well as testing, the Programme offers sexual and reproductive health education on prevention against STIs and both group and one-to-one sessions to anyone who needs it.  Advocating for support  FPATT has, for many years, advocated for the sexual and reproductive rights of the LGBTI+ community, ensuring that it remains a safe place for HIV testing and counselling. It holds a vision of a world where gender or sexuality are no longer a source of inequality or stigma.   FPATT is poised to become a full-service HIV treatment site, offering antiretroviral treatment as well as psychosocial services for persons affected by HIV. FPATT’s goal is to stop discrimination and stigma against persons living with HIV and ultimately end the spread of HIV within Trinidad and Tobago by 2030.    

Healthcare worker
story

| 27 May 2022

Ensuring care for Trinidad and Tobago's LGBTI+ community

Public perceptions, a lack of education, and government policies contribute to the barriers and challenges to achieving equality for all. In a country as diverse as Trinidad and Tobago, this is especially acute for certain key populations, including the LGBTI+ community.  For Brandy Rodriguez, Healthcare Navigator at the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), the struggle is both real and personal. In 1999, Brandy began her transition to womanhood and since 2006 has been working with FPATT in their HIV programme for the LGBTI+ community.    “Back in 2004, very little was said about HIV infection, transmission and prevention. In fact, if there was any information, it was misconstrued and meant to stigmatize the LGBTI+ community. I was fairly new to the transgender community, so I made it a mission to research and find out the truths behind HIV and how I could protect myself. I then felt like I had to share what I found with others who were searching as well,” she said.  Overcoming prejudice and stigma   That’s when FPATT asked Brandy to join their team in educating the LGBTI+ community on the types of healthcare available. Stigma surrounding the community forced many to stay hidden and avoid seeking care. Even if a member of the LGBTI+ community wanted to test for their HIV status, they would never dare to go into a public health centre, because of the fear of being judged by the healthcare professionals.    “It’s a simple case of this. When a transgender or non-binary person walks into a health centre or hospital, and the triage nurse has to fill in a form that asks for gender, the only two options there are male and female. So usually, the non-binary person knows that if they want to access that healthcare, free of judgement, they would have to dress as the gender that would bring less attention. At the end of the day, the healthcare provider does not receive accurate information about the client, and the client doesn’t receive the scope of assessment and treatment that may be necessary. So part of what I do, is to simply accompany the client to the appointment so that it’s a less stressful experience and they don’t feel like they are alone,” says Brandy.   The importance of access to HIV treatment and care Apart from a great lack of healthcare professionals that are willing to treat the LGBTI+ community non-judgementally, the community also lacks social support. Most of the members of the community face barriers to housing and employment, which often means earning a livelihood through sex work. Over 95% of skilled and employable persons within the LGBTI+ community have turned to sex work because they are constantly denied employment within other industries.   “When I began my transition, I was fortunate to have the support of my family; they understood my heart and my need to be my authentic self. Not everyone has that support and so some either migrate or are left homeless because of the fact. Having to work within the sex industry means that they are now at greater risk for HIV or other STIs. My job as an Educator and Navigator is to promote condom use and ensure that they make use of FPATT’s regular HIV testing. If they do test positive, we then have that conversation about U=U, which means that if they [their HIV viral load] are undetectable, they will be untransferable, and then get them to that place of undetectability.”    Brandy explains that being undetectable means that the client’s viral load is suppressed, and they are living healthy lives. The team works hard to ensure clients living with HIV enrol in the FPATT Programme, which supports the importance of adhering to consistent treatment, healthy eating, and rest. As well as testing, the Programme offers sexual and reproductive health education on prevention against STIs and both group and one-to-one sessions to anyone who needs it.  Advocating for support  FPATT has, for many years, advocated for the sexual and reproductive rights of the LGBTI+ community, ensuring that it remains a safe place for HIV testing and counselling. It holds a vision of a world where gender or sexuality are no longer a source of inequality or stigma.   FPATT is poised to become a full-service HIV treatment site, offering antiretroviral treatment as well as psychosocial services for persons affected by HIV. FPATT’s goal is to stop discrimination and stigma against persons living with HIV and ultimately end the spread of HIV within Trinidad and Tobago by 2030.    

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 27 May 2022

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Midwife Rewda Kedir examines a newborn baby and mother in a health center outside of Jimma, Ethiopia
story

| 16 July 2020

"Before, there was no safe abortion"

Rewda Kedir works as a midwife in a rural area of the Oromia region in southwest Ethiopia. Only 14% of married women are using any method of contraception here.  The government hospital Rewda works in is supported to provide a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, which includes providing free contraceptives and comprehensive abortion care. In January 2017, the maternal healthcare clinic faced shortages of contraceptives after the US administration reactivated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which does not allow any funding to go to organizations associated with providing abortion care. Fortunately in this case, the shortages only lasted a month due to the government of the Netherlands stepping in and matching lost funding. “Before, we had a shortage of contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptives. We would have to give people prescriptions and they would go to private clinics and where they had to pay," Rewda tells us. "When I first came to this clinic, there was a real shortage of people trained in family planning. I was the only one. Now there are many people trained on family planning, and when I’m not here, people can help." "There used to be a shortage of choice and alternatives, and now there are many. And the implant procedures are better because there are newer products that are much smaller so putting them in is less invasive.” Opening a dialogue on contraception  The hospital has been providing medical abortions for six years. “Before, there was no safe abortion," says Rewda. She explains how people would go to 'traditional' healers and then come to the clinic with complications like sepsis, bleeding, anaemia and toxic shock. If they had complications or infections above nine weeks, Rewda and her colleagues would send them to Jimma, the regional capital. "Before, it was very difficult to persuade them to use family planning, and we had to have a lot of conversations. Now, they come 45 days after delivery to speak to us about this and get their babies immunised," she explains. "They want contraceptives to space out their children. Sometimes their husbands don’t like them coming to get family planning so we have to lock their appointment cards away. Their husbands want more children and they think that women who do not keep having their children will go with other men." "More kids, more wealth" Rewda tells us that they've used family counselling to try and persuade men to reconsider their ideas about contraception, by explaining to them that continuously giving birth under unsafe circumstances can affect a woman's health and might lead to maternal death, damage the uterus and lead to long-term complications. "Here, people believe that more kids means more wealth, and religion restricts family planning services. Before, they did not have good training on family planning and abortion. Now, women that have abortions get proper care and the counseling and education has improved. There are still unsafe abortions but they have really reduced. We used to see about 40 a year and now it’s one or two." However, problems still exist. "There are some complications, like irregular bleeding from some contraceptives," Rewda says, and that "women still face conflict with their husbands over family planning and sometimes have to go to court to fight this or divorce them.”

Midwife Rewda Kedir examines a newborn baby and mother in a health center outside of Jimma, Ethiopia
story

| 27 May 2022

"Before, there was no safe abortion"

Rewda Kedir works as a midwife in a rural area of the Oromia region in southwest Ethiopia. Only 14% of married women are using any method of contraception here.  The government hospital Rewda works in is supported to provide a full range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, which includes providing free contraceptives and comprehensive abortion care. In January 2017, the maternal healthcare clinic faced shortages of contraceptives after the US administration reactivated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which does not allow any funding to go to organizations associated with providing abortion care. Fortunately in this case, the shortages only lasted a month due to the government of the Netherlands stepping in and matching lost funding. “Before, we had a shortage of contraceptive pills and emergency contraceptives. We would have to give people prescriptions and they would go to private clinics and where they had to pay," Rewda tells us. "When I first came to this clinic, there was a real shortage of people trained in family planning. I was the only one. Now there are many people trained on family planning, and when I’m not here, people can help." "There used to be a shortage of choice and alternatives, and now there are many. And the implant procedures are better because there are newer products that are much smaller so putting them in is less invasive.” Opening a dialogue on contraception  The hospital has been providing medical abortions for six years. “Before, there was no safe abortion," says Rewda. She explains how people would go to 'traditional' healers and then come to the clinic with complications like sepsis, bleeding, anaemia and toxic shock. If they had complications or infections above nine weeks, Rewda and her colleagues would send them to Jimma, the regional capital. "Before, it was very difficult to persuade them to use family planning, and we had to have a lot of conversations. Now, they come 45 days after delivery to speak to us about this and get their babies immunised," she explains. "They want contraceptives to space out their children. Sometimes their husbands don’t like them coming to get family planning so we have to lock their appointment cards away. Their husbands want more children and they think that women who do not keep having their children will go with other men." "More kids, more wealth" Rewda tells us that they've used family counselling to try and persuade men to reconsider their ideas about contraception, by explaining to them that continuously giving birth under unsafe circumstances can affect a woman's health and might lead to maternal death, damage the uterus and lead to long-term complications. "Here, people believe that more kids means more wealth, and religion restricts family planning services. Before, they did not have good training on family planning and abortion. Now, women that have abortions get proper care and the counseling and education has improved. There are still unsafe abortions but they have really reduced. We used to see about 40 a year and now it’s one or two." However, problems still exist. "There are some complications, like irregular bleeding from some contraceptives," Rewda says, and that "women still face conflict with their husbands over family planning and sometimes have to go to court to fight this or divorce them.”

チピリ・ムレムフウェさん。資金が途絶えるまで、IPPFザンビア(PPAZ)が実施するUSAIDオープンドア・プロジェクトのサービスデリバリー・マネージャーを務めていた
story

| 08 August 2018

“We are losing precious time"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. “When I lost my job as service delivery manager [at PPAZ USAID's Open Doors project], I felt like a part of me had died, I’m very passionate about this. I look forward to seeing a day where everybody will be free to access health services without stigma and discrimination, especially public health facilities. That’s what I’d like to see, [I] want to see integrated services, being provided to key populations, without stigma and discrimination, and fear of being arrested." The Global Gag Rule The reinstatement of the ‘Global Gag Rule’ resulted in the termination of Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia grant for the USAID Open Doors being terminated.  Chipili says “We didn’t expect its implementation to come with the termination of the grants suddenly. We thought that we were going to be given time, a year, one year to work and complete the project and hand over to the partner that was going to take over the responsibilities that Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia handled.” The termination of the project means progress that has been made, especially the work done to help reduce the number of HIV and STIs cases among the key populations will be undone. Progress, that is desperately needed to meet Zambia’s targets on HIV reduction. “We are losing precious time. We have got targets to meet as a nation, we need to ensure that by 2020 we reach the 90/90 goals, set by UNAIDS, and also the country has a broader vision of eliminating the threat of HIV, HIV as a public threat by 2030. So if we have such stumbling blocks, then the targets might not be met.  And then these key populations are also linked with the general population, we have men who sex with men, they also have partners, some of them are married, and if we don’t get into their networks, HIV and STIs will end up in the general population, therefore putting everybody at risk." Other impacts have been the increased vulnerability and the lost investment of peer promoters from the key populations and loss of safety and security that was provided by the organization.  Loss of safety and security “For safety and security, key populations cannot freely go to facilities they don’t know very well. The clinic setup was the most ideal set up for them. No one would question them, because this is open to everybody. But now what the project is doing, they are renting houses, the USAID is renting houses where they are providing services, so a house is very different from a clinic, that also affects the element of sustainability. The element of sustainability has also been lost because PPAZ has been here for a long time, since 1972, so we were hoping that the project was going to build the capacity for PPAZ to continue providing services to key populations that are free from stigma and discrimination. That has been lost. To me it’s a lost opportunity.” The Zambia National AIDS/HIV Strategic Framework for 2017 to 2021, bears a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind when it comes to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “No one should be left behind, if we are to reduce HIV infections to zero, if this is not done, the dream, the vision will not be achieved, we cannot afford to start pointing fingers, we have to use the public health approach and eliminate the risk of HIV infection amidst our people”.

チピリ・ムレムフウェさん。資金が途絶えるまで、IPPFザンビア(PPAZ)が実施するUSAIDオープンドア・プロジェクトのサービスデリバリー・マネージャーを務めていた
story

| 27 May 2022

“We are losing precious time"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. “When I lost my job as service delivery manager [at PPAZ USAID's Open Doors project], I felt like a part of me had died, I’m very passionate about this. I look forward to seeing a day where everybody will be free to access health services without stigma and discrimination, especially public health facilities. That’s what I’d like to see, [I] want to see integrated services, being provided to key populations, without stigma and discrimination, and fear of being arrested." The Global Gag Rule The reinstatement of the ‘Global Gag Rule’ resulted in the termination of Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia grant for the USAID Open Doors being terminated.  Chipili says “We didn’t expect its implementation to come with the termination of the grants suddenly. We thought that we were going to be given time, a year, one year to work and complete the project and hand over to the partner that was going to take over the responsibilities that Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia handled.” The termination of the project means progress that has been made, especially the work done to help reduce the number of HIV and STIs cases among the key populations will be undone. Progress, that is desperately needed to meet Zambia’s targets on HIV reduction. “We are losing precious time. We have got targets to meet as a nation, we need to ensure that by 2020 we reach the 90/90 goals, set by UNAIDS, and also the country has a broader vision of eliminating the threat of HIV, HIV as a public threat by 2030. So if we have such stumbling blocks, then the targets might not be met.  And then these key populations are also linked with the general population, we have men who sex with men, they also have partners, some of them are married, and if we don’t get into their networks, HIV and STIs will end up in the general population, therefore putting everybody at risk." Other impacts have been the increased vulnerability and the lost investment of peer promoters from the key populations and loss of safety and security that was provided by the organization.  Loss of safety and security “For safety and security, key populations cannot freely go to facilities they don’t know very well. The clinic setup was the most ideal set up for them. No one would question them, because this is open to everybody. But now what the project is doing, they are renting houses, the USAID is renting houses where they are providing services, so a house is very different from a clinic, that also affects the element of sustainability. The element of sustainability has also been lost because PPAZ has been here for a long time, since 1972, so we were hoping that the project was going to build the capacity for PPAZ to continue providing services to key populations that are free from stigma and discrimination. That has been lost. To me it’s a lost opportunity.” The Zambia National AIDS/HIV Strategic Framework for 2017 to 2021, bears a strong emphasis on leaving no one behind when it comes to stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “No one should be left behind, if we are to reduce HIV infections to zero, if this is not done, the dream, the vision will not be achieved, we cannot afford to start pointing fingers, we have to use the public health approach and eliminate the risk of HIV infection amidst our people”.

Thomas, 34 years old, former PPAZ peer educator and counsellor
story

| 08 August 2018

"The community really appreciated the services we were offering"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. "My name is Thomas, I’m 34 years old. At PPAZ I worked as a peer educator and counsellor, I used to work on the outreach programmes in the community to offer access to health services like voluntary counselling and testing, we also used to sensitize women on the importance of family planning. We also used to refer women we would find had different problems, to the facilities so they can access health services. We also used to help by giving information on things like HIV prevention and signs and symptoms to look out for.  At other times, since the places were very far, we would take the services from the facilities to where the people were, so PPAZ used to help us do that.  I was at the clinic when they came to tell us that PPAZ would no longer be involved in the project because the funding had been stopped. It was a challenge for us because the services that people had become accustomed to in the communities, HIV counselling and testing services levels reduced because we couldn’t manage to go and take these services to them in the places where they live.  When we worked with PPAZ we used to put condoms in these places for them, in the bars and taverns, and even pool tables. Now that PPAZ is gone, the government cannot meet the supply of condoms needed in these places, even the services can’t be offered on the same scale. Unable to meet needs in rural areas Like you can see here, I look after my grandmother and other family members and that money [peer educators' allowance] used to go a long way in helping us look after our children and buy food, and other things. At the moment it is very difficult. Nyangwena is a very big place, it also includes 14 villages, so there are many people in this area. With the money that we were given through PPAZ, my friend and I would manage to get tyres for a bicycle and go to these places, we’d cycle distances as far as 14Km away. It was very helpful; the community really appreciated the services we were offering because we used to take them to the people. We would be very happy if PPAZ were to start them again because we would really help our communities a great deal with these services. Even school children would go and access them, at the youth-friendly corner twice a week. Information is really needed amongst these school children."

Thomas, 34 years old, former PPAZ peer educator and counsellor
story

| 27 May 2022

"The community really appreciated the services we were offering"

In November 2017,  Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) received the news that they must cease all USAID funded programmes. The stop order was a result of the 'Global Gag Rule' (GGR), also referred to as the Mexico City Policy. The reinstatement of the policy has resulted in Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia losing 46% of its funding. You can learn more about the Global Gag Rule here. "My name is Thomas, I’m 34 years old. At PPAZ I worked as a peer educator and counsellor, I used to work on the outreach programmes in the community to offer access to health services like voluntary counselling and testing, we also used to sensitize women on the importance of family planning. We also used to refer women we would find had different problems, to the facilities so they can access health services. We also used to help by giving information on things like HIV prevention and signs and symptoms to look out for.  At other times, since the places were very far, we would take the services from the facilities to where the people were, so PPAZ used to help us do that.  I was at the clinic when they came to tell us that PPAZ would no longer be involved in the project because the funding had been stopped. It was a challenge for us because the services that people had become accustomed to in the communities, HIV counselling and testing services levels reduced because we couldn’t manage to go and take these services to them in the places where they live.  When we worked with PPAZ we used to put condoms in these places for them, in the bars and taverns, and even pool tables. Now that PPAZ is gone, the government cannot meet the supply of condoms needed in these places, even the services can’t be offered on the same scale. Unable to meet needs in rural areas Like you can see here, I look after my grandmother and other family members and that money [peer educators' allowance] used to go a long way in helping us look after our children and buy food, and other things. At the moment it is very difficult. Nyangwena is a very big place, it also includes 14 villages, so there are many people in this area. With the money that we were given through PPAZ, my friend and I would manage to get tyres for a bicycle and go to these places, we’d cycle distances as far as 14Km away. It was very helpful; the community really appreciated the services we were offering because we used to take them to the people. We would be very happy if PPAZ were to start them again because we would really help our communities a great deal with these services. Even school children would go and access them, at the youth-friendly corner twice a week. Information is really needed amongst these school children."