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Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

albania cervical cancer
Story

Stories about our global efforts to eliminate cervical cancer

From Nigeria to Bermuda, and Albania to Indonesia, our member associations are dedicated to preventing, treating, and ultimately eliminating cervical cancer. 

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story

| 15 October 2016

Living with HIV and HPV - a grandmother's tale

Christine is a 45-year-old grandmother who has HIV. She has been on antiretroviral treatment since 2005 and was widowed in 2006. She thinks her husband died of an HIV-related infection. “I heard on the radio that for people living positively it was a serious risk for us to get cervical cancer. During the announcements they mentioned some of the signs of cervical cancer like bad smell and so many signs. “I was having signs of discharge and very bad smell,” she said. She needed a smear to check for cervical cancer but getting one in rural Uganda wasn’t easy because money was tight and there were few gynaecologists available. “I tried in TASO Uganda, I failed. I went to Lachor Hospital, I never got satisfied.   “Early in 2013, I heard over the radio about the services being offered by Reproductive Health Uganda. I went to their service centre and I was examined for cervical cancer and I tested positive. I got services from that centre. Last August, when I went for my control, they found that I’m free of cervical cancer,” said Christine. When she went for the smear for cervical cancer at Gulu Clinic she was also tested for human papilloma virus (HPV). Today Christine is visited by two people at her thatched hut home four kilometres away from Gulu Clinic. It is part of the routine follow-up for patients. From first appearance, it is hard to believe that this grandmother of one is living with HIV until she tells you that she is living positively. In her hut, the portrait of her late husband is displayed on the wall. Smartly dressed in a white and black coloured long dress, Christine said she had seen many friends that had died of cervical cancer. “Gulu Clinic has changed my life completely because of the way they handle their clients. And we got the service at a lower cost than at other health centres." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

story

| 29 January 2023

Living with HIV and HPV - a grandmother's tale

Christine is a 45-year-old grandmother who has HIV. She has been on antiretroviral treatment since 2005 and was widowed in 2006. She thinks her husband died of an HIV-related infection. “I heard on the radio that for people living positively it was a serious risk for us to get cervical cancer. During the announcements they mentioned some of the signs of cervical cancer like bad smell and so many signs. “I was having signs of discharge and very bad smell,” she said. She needed a smear to check for cervical cancer but getting one in rural Uganda wasn’t easy because money was tight and there were few gynaecologists available. “I tried in TASO Uganda, I failed. I went to Lachor Hospital, I never got satisfied.   “Early in 2013, I heard over the radio about the services being offered by Reproductive Health Uganda. I went to their service centre and I was examined for cervical cancer and I tested positive. I got services from that centre. Last August, when I went for my control, they found that I’m free of cervical cancer,” said Christine. When she went for the smear for cervical cancer at Gulu Clinic she was also tested for human papilloma virus (HPV). Today Christine is visited by two people at her thatched hut home four kilometres away from Gulu Clinic. It is part of the routine follow-up for patients. From first appearance, it is hard to believe that this grandmother of one is living with HIV until she tells you that she is living positively. In her hut, the portrait of her late husband is displayed on the wall. Smartly dressed in a white and black coloured long dress, Christine said she had seen many friends that had died of cervical cancer. “Gulu Clinic has changed my life completely because of the way they handle their clients. And we got the service at a lower cost than at other health centres." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

IPPF youth volunteer, Uganda
story

| 15 October 2016

Youth volunteers leading the change in Uganda

Nancy Lakisa, a 19-year-old nursing student, volunteers at Reproductive Health Uganda Gulu branch. Nancy first went to the clinic as a client when she was suffering from a burning urinary tract infection. RHU clinics offer integrated youth-friendly services to encourage young people to use health services and staff have been trained to listen and offer services to adolescents with ease and respect.    “When I came for the service, I was welcomed, I felt at home because the service provider handled me in a very good way. Though I was afraid of telling her what was happening to me but the way she was talking to me, I really got that courage and explained to her everything. "I am inspired to be a caring nurse and now I spend my holiday time at the clinic as a volunteer. I really admired how they do their things and I really wanted to learn more about reproductive health." Nancy said her experience had changed her life. “I had many boyfriends, I used not even to care whether somebody talked me. I didn't even used to respect my mum when she tried to advise me but I had counselling about that. I only have one life. Gulu is changing the lives of many people." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

IPPF youth volunteer, Uganda
story

| 29 January 2023

Youth volunteers leading the change in Uganda

Nancy Lakisa, a 19-year-old nursing student, volunteers at Reproductive Health Uganda Gulu branch. Nancy first went to the clinic as a client when she was suffering from a burning urinary tract infection. RHU clinics offer integrated youth-friendly services to encourage young people to use health services and staff have been trained to listen and offer services to adolescents with ease and respect.    “When I came for the service, I was welcomed, I felt at home because the service provider handled me in a very good way. Though I was afraid of telling her what was happening to me but the way she was talking to me, I really got that courage and explained to her everything. "I am inspired to be a caring nurse and now I spend my holiday time at the clinic as a volunteer. I really admired how they do their things and I really wanted to learn more about reproductive health." Nancy said her experience had changed her life. “I had many boyfriends, I used not even to care whether somebody talked me. I didn't even used to respect my mum when she tried to advise me but I had counselling about that. I only have one life. Gulu is changing the lives of many people." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

Taiwo receiving care at the FFPN clinic
story

| 23 September 2016

A Nigerian mother's renewed faith in family planning

"I decided to use this clinic because I heard a lot of success stories about it.   I trust their judgment that is why I am here.”   Taiwo Ogunfayo, a 33-year-old interior decorator, is a client at the Liberty Stadium Clinic – one of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) facilities in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in South West Nigeria. “One day, I was in the market when I came across a PPFN outreach. The way the Community Health Extension Workers were explaining the different family planning methods was very simple to understand. “I have come across a lot of women since my first visit to this place and they all assured me that family planning works and it won't fail like a previous experience, but I didn't let that stop me from trying family planning again." Lack of adequate information is creating misinformation and wrong perceptions about family planning. She says that 'a lot of women have all sorts of beliefs about family planning, tied to religion and culture', hence the need for more PPFN community outreach services. "It was through the outreach service in my community that I found out about PPFN. The interesting thing about the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria project in Oyo state is that all the family planning methods are free if you can't afford to pay. There is no cost to the patient."   The team Read more about the team behind Nigeria's amazing success

Taiwo receiving care at the FFPN clinic
story

| 29 January 2023

A Nigerian mother's renewed faith in family planning

"I decided to use this clinic because I heard a lot of success stories about it.   I trust their judgment that is why I am here.”   Taiwo Ogunfayo, a 33-year-old interior decorator, is a client at the Liberty Stadium Clinic – one of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) facilities in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in South West Nigeria. “One day, I was in the market when I came across a PPFN outreach. The way the Community Health Extension Workers were explaining the different family planning methods was very simple to understand. “I have come across a lot of women since my first visit to this place and they all assured me that family planning works and it won't fail like a previous experience, but I didn't let that stop me from trying family planning again." Lack of adequate information is creating misinformation and wrong perceptions about family planning. She says that 'a lot of women have all sorts of beliefs about family planning, tied to religion and culture', hence the need for more PPFN community outreach services. "It was through the outreach service in my community that I found out about PPFN. The interesting thing about the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria project in Oyo state is that all the family planning methods are free if you can't afford to pay. There is no cost to the patient."   The team Read more about the team behind Nigeria's amazing success

girl
story

| 26 May 2016

Options: Maya contemplates abortion

He seemed so nice, I felt excited. I never thought he would push me to the ground and pull my underwear down. I should have fought harder, but he was so strong. He was hurting me so much – I was just crushed.  I wish I had said something to Mama straight away but as the time passed it became harder to talk about it so I told no one. My friends would have said it was my fault – I always said I fancied him. Mama and Papa would never understand or support me.  Mama found my diary and read it. The hardest thing was figuring out what to do. We were both confused. She had heard of a woman who helped girls like me to get an abortion. We went to the woman’s house, it was dirty and she was not friendly to us – just asked if we had money. Mama didn’t like it so we left. She said it didn’t look safe and it would be bad for me to be seen there. She decided that we would go to a clinic in the next town so no one would know me.  I felt scared. Because I had left it a long time the nurse told me I was 17 weeks pregnant. She then went through all the options with me. It was a lot of information to take in, but I felt like it was my decision and the most important thing was I didn’t feel ready to be a mama myself. It was quite a long medical check up with lots of embarrassing questions. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I was quite scared. I had an injection so I don’t remember anything until it was all over. The nurse came to talk to me about contraception. Then I had an STI and HIV test and that was ok.  It still shocks me when I think about all that has happened. I am sure that I made the right decision to have an abortion. It let me get on with my life and studies.

girl
story

| 29 January 2023

Options: Maya contemplates abortion

He seemed so nice, I felt excited. I never thought he would push me to the ground and pull my underwear down. I should have fought harder, but he was so strong. He was hurting me so much – I was just crushed.  I wish I had said something to Mama straight away but as the time passed it became harder to talk about it so I told no one. My friends would have said it was my fault – I always said I fancied him. Mama and Papa would never understand or support me.  Mama found my diary and read it. The hardest thing was figuring out what to do. We were both confused. She had heard of a woman who helped girls like me to get an abortion. We went to the woman’s house, it was dirty and she was not friendly to us – just asked if we had money. Mama didn’t like it so we left. She said it didn’t look safe and it would be bad for me to be seen there. She decided that we would go to a clinic in the next town so no one would know me.  I felt scared. Because I had left it a long time the nurse told me I was 17 weeks pregnant. She then went through all the options with me. It was a lot of information to take in, but I felt like it was my decision and the most important thing was I didn’t feel ready to be a mama myself. It was quite a long medical check up with lots of embarrassing questions. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I was quite scared. I had an injection so I don’t remember anything until it was all over. The nurse came to talk to me about contraception. Then I had an STI and HIV test and that was ok.  It still shocks me when I think about all that has happened. I am sure that I made the right decision to have an abortion. It let me get on with my life and studies.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 03 May 2016

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 29 January 2023

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Julie, former midwife, now nurse and Project manager for IPPF-SPRINT in Vanuatu
story

| 19 March 2016

Overcoming barriers to family planning in Vanuatu: Julie's experience at IPPF-SPRINT

Julie was a midwife with the Ministry of Health for 20 years before she joined the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) as nurse and project manager for IPPF's SPRINT Initiative response in Vanuatu. When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the SPRINT Initiative and VHFA started providing life-saving services to the Island, Tanna, which was the population worst affected by the typhoon. Many communities there live remotely, in grass huts, with no immediate access to medical care.  Julie was there with the VFHA team. “When I first came here we used the kitchen to operate from. On my second trip, we created a clinic in our youth centre, and used the nearby health post for clinical procedures. Soon we saw more patients pouring in, which created a huge demand for space." Health conditions are very low. Even before the cyclone hit the island, it was reported that the average mother loses two pregnancies each, in her lifetime. Every person in the village knows at least one mother who has died during child birth. Access and knowledge to family planning is overlooked as traditional practices are used first. As Julie explains, advocating about family planning is a challenge in the area, also for language barriers. “Talking about birth-spacing and talking in the regional dialect of Tanna is a problem. Most of us in Vanuatu speak Bislama, but people here in Tanna aren’t well versed with it. However, we try our level best with all possible methods including sign language and demos to impart knowledge about family planning.” Family planning services are just a part of the IPPF-SPRINT Cyclone Pam response, that also included general health check-up, counselling and awareness about Sexual and Gender Based Violence, maternal care and awareness and prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).  

Julie, former midwife, now nurse and Project manager for IPPF-SPRINT in Vanuatu
story

| 29 January 2023

Overcoming barriers to family planning in Vanuatu: Julie's experience at IPPF-SPRINT

Julie was a midwife with the Ministry of Health for 20 years before she joined the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) as nurse and project manager for IPPF's SPRINT Initiative response in Vanuatu. When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the SPRINT Initiative and VHFA started providing life-saving services to the Island, Tanna, which was the population worst affected by the typhoon. Many communities there live remotely, in grass huts, with no immediate access to medical care.  Julie was there with the VFHA team. “When I first came here we used the kitchen to operate from. On my second trip, we created a clinic in our youth centre, and used the nearby health post for clinical procedures. Soon we saw more patients pouring in, which created a huge demand for space." Health conditions are very low. Even before the cyclone hit the island, it was reported that the average mother loses two pregnancies each, in her lifetime. Every person in the village knows at least one mother who has died during child birth. Access and knowledge to family planning is overlooked as traditional practices are used first. As Julie explains, advocating about family planning is a challenge in the area, also for language barriers. “Talking about birth-spacing and talking in the regional dialect of Tanna is a problem. Most of us in Vanuatu speak Bislama, but people here in Tanna aren’t well versed with it. However, we try our level best with all possible methods including sign language and demos to impart knowledge about family planning.” Family planning services are just a part of the IPPF-SPRINT Cyclone Pam response, that also included general health check-up, counselling and awareness about Sexual and Gender Based Violence, maternal care and awareness and prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).  

story

| 15 October 2016

Living with HIV and HPV - a grandmother's tale

Christine is a 45-year-old grandmother who has HIV. She has been on antiretroviral treatment since 2005 and was widowed in 2006. She thinks her husband died of an HIV-related infection. “I heard on the radio that for people living positively it was a serious risk for us to get cervical cancer. During the announcements they mentioned some of the signs of cervical cancer like bad smell and so many signs. “I was having signs of discharge and very bad smell,” she said. She needed a smear to check for cervical cancer but getting one in rural Uganda wasn’t easy because money was tight and there were few gynaecologists available. “I tried in TASO Uganda, I failed. I went to Lachor Hospital, I never got satisfied.   “Early in 2013, I heard over the radio about the services being offered by Reproductive Health Uganda. I went to their service centre and I was examined for cervical cancer and I tested positive. I got services from that centre. Last August, when I went for my control, they found that I’m free of cervical cancer,” said Christine. When she went for the smear for cervical cancer at Gulu Clinic she was also tested for human papilloma virus (HPV). Today Christine is visited by two people at her thatched hut home four kilometres away from Gulu Clinic. It is part of the routine follow-up for patients. From first appearance, it is hard to believe that this grandmother of one is living with HIV until she tells you that she is living positively. In her hut, the portrait of her late husband is displayed on the wall. Smartly dressed in a white and black coloured long dress, Christine said she had seen many friends that had died of cervical cancer. “Gulu Clinic has changed my life completely because of the way they handle their clients. And we got the service at a lower cost than at other health centres." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

story

| 29 January 2023

Living with HIV and HPV - a grandmother's tale

Christine is a 45-year-old grandmother who has HIV. She has been on antiretroviral treatment since 2005 and was widowed in 2006. She thinks her husband died of an HIV-related infection. “I heard on the radio that for people living positively it was a serious risk for us to get cervical cancer. During the announcements they mentioned some of the signs of cervical cancer like bad smell and so many signs. “I was having signs of discharge and very bad smell,” she said. She needed a smear to check for cervical cancer but getting one in rural Uganda wasn’t easy because money was tight and there were few gynaecologists available. “I tried in TASO Uganda, I failed. I went to Lachor Hospital, I never got satisfied.   “Early in 2013, I heard over the radio about the services being offered by Reproductive Health Uganda. I went to their service centre and I was examined for cervical cancer and I tested positive. I got services from that centre. Last August, when I went for my control, they found that I’m free of cervical cancer,” said Christine. When she went for the smear for cervical cancer at Gulu Clinic she was also tested for human papilloma virus (HPV). Today Christine is visited by two people at her thatched hut home four kilometres away from Gulu Clinic. It is part of the routine follow-up for patients. From first appearance, it is hard to believe that this grandmother of one is living with HIV until she tells you that she is living positively. In her hut, the portrait of her late husband is displayed on the wall. Smartly dressed in a white and black coloured long dress, Christine said she had seen many friends that had died of cervical cancer. “Gulu Clinic has changed my life completely because of the way they handle their clients. And we got the service at a lower cost than at other health centres." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

IPPF youth volunteer, Uganda
story

| 15 October 2016

Youth volunteers leading the change in Uganda

Nancy Lakisa, a 19-year-old nursing student, volunteers at Reproductive Health Uganda Gulu branch. Nancy first went to the clinic as a client when she was suffering from a burning urinary tract infection. RHU clinics offer integrated youth-friendly services to encourage young people to use health services and staff have been trained to listen and offer services to adolescents with ease and respect.    “When I came for the service, I was welcomed, I felt at home because the service provider handled me in a very good way. Though I was afraid of telling her what was happening to me but the way she was talking to me, I really got that courage and explained to her everything. "I am inspired to be a caring nurse and now I spend my holiday time at the clinic as a volunteer. I really admired how they do their things and I really wanted to learn more about reproductive health." Nancy said her experience had changed her life. “I had many boyfriends, I used not even to care whether somebody talked me. I didn't even used to respect my mum when she tried to advise me but I had counselling about that. I only have one life. Gulu is changing the lives of many people." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

IPPF youth volunteer, Uganda
story

| 29 January 2023

Youth volunteers leading the change in Uganda

Nancy Lakisa, a 19-year-old nursing student, volunteers at Reproductive Health Uganda Gulu branch. Nancy first went to the clinic as a client when she was suffering from a burning urinary tract infection. RHU clinics offer integrated youth-friendly services to encourage young people to use health services and staff have been trained to listen and offer services to adolescents with ease and respect.    “When I came for the service, I was welcomed, I felt at home because the service provider handled me in a very good way. Though I was afraid of telling her what was happening to me but the way she was talking to me, I really got that courage and explained to her everything. "I am inspired to be a caring nurse and now I spend my holiday time at the clinic as a volunteer. I really admired how they do their things and I really wanted to learn more about reproductive health." Nancy said her experience had changed her life. “I had many boyfriends, I used not even to care whether somebody talked me. I didn't even used to respect my mum when she tried to advise me but I had counselling about that. I only have one life. Gulu is changing the lives of many people." Follow a day in the life of our team and clients in Gulu, Uganda 07:00 08:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 22:00 Prev Next 7am: The team prepare for the long day ahead "Every year tens of thousands of Ugandans come to our clinic. Everyone is welcome. Here are just a few of the people that we served in one day last month." READ MORE 8am: Nancy, 19, becomes a volunteer "I was suffering but when I came here, I was treated and I got better. Now I'm inspired to volunteer here" READ MORE 9am: Monica, 25, a sex worker's story "I am sex working. I came here for Hepatitis B testing and also counselling. I have so many personal problems, but here….they’re so caring." READ MORE 10am: Jane, 23, saved by family planning "After multiple miscarriages, family planning here has helped me a lot. I'm glad we've been able to space the number of children we've had. I am not growing old, I am fresh." READ MORE 11am: Vicky, handling disabilities "I'm deaf so accessing services is hard, but here they really try to speak in sign language." READ MORE 12pm: Dorcus, first time patient "This is the first time I've ever come here, I like the service. They give good counselling so I recommend coming." READ MORE 1pm: Christine, 45, a grandmother's tale of living with HIV "I am living with HIV and had HPV. They treated me and now I'm free of cervical cancer." READ MORE 2pm: Lilian, struggling mother of six with sickle cell " I have sickle cell disease and so do all my children. I want to have my tube removed so that I don't get pregnant again but I don't know if my husband will allow it." READ MORE 3pm: Brenda and Francis get fertility treatments "Fertility treatment is a sensitive issue in Uganda but they help us a lot and we get proper treatment." READ MORE 4pm: Joyce, 25, repected regardless of her disability "I realised that at this place they don't segregate. Us people with disabilities have challenges at the main hospitals. You go there, people around look at you as if you are not a human being and you don't fall sick." READ MORE 5pm: Mobile clinic provides outreach services to remote villages "Our outreach to remote communities is a 'one-stop-centre'. We give family planning, vaccines for HPV, malaria, and Hepatitis B, HIV testing and more." READ MORE 22pm: Still giving the last client our very best "Together, we have great teamwork. Sometimes we're still working up to 10pm because we never chase out our clients. We’ll never close the place when we have a client inside. People come when they have no hope." READ MORE

Taiwo receiving care at the FFPN clinic
story

| 23 September 2016

A Nigerian mother's renewed faith in family planning

"I decided to use this clinic because I heard a lot of success stories about it.   I trust their judgment that is why I am here.”   Taiwo Ogunfayo, a 33-year-old interior decorator, is a client at the Liberty Stadium Clinic – one of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) facilities in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in South West Nigeria. “One day, I was in the market when I came across a PPFN outreach. The way the Community Health Extension Workers were explaining the different family planning methods was very simple to understand. “I have come across a lot of women since my first visit to this place and they all assured me that family planning works and it won't fail like a previous experience, but I didn't let that stop me from trying family planning again." Lack of adequate information is creating misinformation and wrong perceptions about family planning. She says that 'a lot of women have all sorts of beliefs about family planning, tied to religion and culture', hence the need for more PPFN community outreach services. "It was through the outreach service in my community that I found out about PPFN. The interesting thing about the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria project in Oyo state is that all the family planning methods are free if you can't afford to pay. There is no cost to the patient."   The team Read more about the team behind Nigeria's amazing success

Taiwo receiving care at the FFPN clinic
story

| 29 January 2023

A Nigerian mother's renewed faith in family planning

"I decided to use this clinic because I heard a lot of success stories about it.   I trust their judgment that is why I am here.”   Taiwo Ogunfayo, a 33-year-old interior decorator, is a client at the Liberty Stadium Clinic – one of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN) facilities in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in South West Nigeria. “One day, I was in the market when I came across a PPFN outreach. The way the Community Health Extension Workers were explaining the different family planning methods was very simple to understand. “I have come across a lot of women since my first visit to this place and they all assured me that family planning works and it won't fail like a previous experience, but I didn't let that stop me from trying family planning again." Lack of adequate information is creating misinformation and wrong perceptions about family planning. She says that 'a lot of women have all sorts of beliefs about family planning, tied to religion and culture', hence the need for more PPFN community outreach services. "It was through the outreach service in my community that I found out about PPFN. The interesting thing about the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria project in Oyo state is that all the family planning methods are free if you can't afford to pay. There is no cost to the patient."   The team Read more about the team behind Nigeria's amazing success

girl
story

| 26 May 2016

Options: Maya contemplates abortion

He seemed so nice, I felt excited. I never thought he would push me to the ground and pull my underwear down. I should have fought harder, but he was so strong. He was hurting me so much – I was just crushed.  I wish I had said something to Mama straight away but as the time passed it became harder to talk about it so I told no one. My friends would have said it was my fault – I always said I fancied him. Mama and Papa would never understand or support me.  Mama found my diary and read it. The hardest thing was figuring out what to do. We were both confused. She had heard of a woman who helped girls like me to get an abortion. We went to the woman’s house, it was dirty and she was not friendly to us – just asked if we had money. Mama didn’t like it so we left. She said it didn’t look safe and it would be bad for me to be seen there. She decided that we would go to a clinic in the next town so no one would know me.  I felt scared. Because I had left it a long time the nurse told me I was 17 weeks pregnant. She then went through all the options with me. It was a lot of information to take in, but I felt like it was my decision and the most important thing was I didn’t feel ready to be a mama myself. It was quite a long medical check up with lots of embarrassing questions. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I was quite scared. I had an injection so I don’t remember anything until it was all over. The nurse came to talk to me about contraception. Then I had an STI and HIV test and that was ok.  It still shocks me when I think about all that has happened. I am sure that I made the right decision to have an abortion. It let me get on with my life and studies.

girl
story

| 29 January 2023

Options: Maya contemplates abortion

He seemed so nice, I felt excited. I never thought he would push me to the ground and pull my underwear down. I should have fought harder, but he was so strong. He was hurting me so much – I was just crushed.  I wish I had said something to Mama straight away but as the time passed it became harder to talk about it so I told no one. My friends would have said it was my fault – I always said I fancied him. Mama and Papa would never understand or support me.  Mama found my diary and read it. The hardest thing was figuring out what to do. We were both confused. She had heard of a woman who helped girls like me to get an abortion. We went to the woman’s house, it was dirty and she was not friendly to us – just asked if we had money. Mama didn’t like it so we left. She said it didn’t look safe and it would be bad for me to be seen there. She decided that we would go to a clinic in the next town so no one would know me.  I felt scared. Because I had left it a long time the nurse told me I was 17 weeks pregnant. She then went through all the options with me. It was a lot of information to take in, but I felt like it was my decision and the most important thing was I didn’t feel ready to be a mama myself. It was quite a long medical check up with lots of embarrassing questions. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I was quite scared. I had an injection so I don’t remember anything until it was all over. The nurse came to talk to me about contraception. Then I had an STI and HIV test and that was ok.  It still shocks me when I think about all that has happened. I am sure that I made the right decision to have an abortion. It let me get on with my life and studies.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 03 May 2016

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Woman in Palestine. Credits: IPPF/Graeme Robertson
story

| 29 January 2023

Palestine: talking about sex to help sexual violence victims

In Palestine sexual violence against women, especially within the family, is common. Women's virginity is linked to the honour of their family, and will face threats of death for dishonouring their family. Mariam needed help to get out of a coerced “relationship”, fearing for her life if her relatives find out. “In the beginning my nephew wanted to kiss me. “I resisted. But then he started touching my body. It became a relationship between lovers. To “preserve” virginity, it was always anal sex.  “I knew it was wrong. But who I should talk to? If my brother found out he would have beaten me - killed me.”  At the Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA)'s clinics, social workers give awareness sessions on sexual violence in the waiting rooms, hoping to catch the attention of women there for other reasons who are hiding the fact they have been abused. It was this kind of session that proved vital for Mariam. “When my sister was pregnant I went with her to the PFPPA clinic,” she remembers. “The social worker there, Ruba, started speaking about sexual violence. When my sister went in with the doctor, I went to Ruba's office and told her I needed help; I cried.” Mariam kept visiting Ruba, and ended things with her nephew. “What happened to me is not rare. It would have been impossible for me to approach a relative and tell them what was going on; I was too frightened. And nobody would have believed me over a man. “I've found there are other women of my age who've had similar experiences to me but women are frightened to speak about it.  “Before, I despised myself. Now I feel powerful. I leave the house, I meet people. I feel I'm responsible for myself, that I have to protect myself, and that I need to help others if they need me. Everyone's telling me 'you've changed, you're stronger'.” Through its association with religious and community leaders, the PFPPA seeks to persuade the public of the importance of talking openly about sexual health and relationships, and dispel the idea that sexuality education for young people goes against the teachings of Islam.

Julie, former midwife, now nurse and Project manager for IPPF-SPRINT in Vanuatu
story

| 19 March 2016

Overcoming barriers to family planning in Vanuatu: Julie's experience at IPPF-SPRINT

Julie was a midwife with the Ministry of Health for 20 years before she joined the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) as nurse and project manager for IPPF's SPRINT Initiative response in Vanuatu. When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the SPRINT Initiative and VHFA started providing life-saving services to the Island, Tanna, which was the population worst affected by the typhoon. Many communities there live remotely, in grass huts, with no immediate access to medical care.  Julie was there with the VFHA team. “When I first came here we used the kitchen to operate from. On my second trip, we created a clinic in our youth centre, and used the nearby health post for clinical procedures. Soon we saw more patients pouring in, which created a huge demand for space." Health conditions are very low. Even before the cyclone hit the island, it was reported that the average mother loses two pregnancies each, in her lifetime. Every person in the village knows at least one mother who has died during child birth. Access and knowledge to family planning is overlooked as traditional practices are used first. As Julie explains, advocating about family planning is a challenge in the area, also for language barriers. “Talking about birth-spacing and talking in the regional dialect of Tanna is a problem. Most of us in Vanuatu speak Bislama, but people here in Tanna aren’t well versed with it. However, we try our level best with all possible methods including sign language and demos to impart knowledge about family planning.” Family planning services are just a part of the IPPF-SPRINT Cyclone Pam response, that also included general health check-up, counselling and awareness about Sexual and Gender Based Violence, maternal care and awareness and prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).  

Julie, former midwife, now nurse and Project manager for IPPF-SPRINT in Vanuatu
story

| 29 January 2023

Overcoming barriers to family planning in Vanuatu: Julie's experience at IPPF-SPRINT

Julie was a midwife with the Ministry of Health for 20 years before she joined the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) as nurse and project manager for IPPF's SPRINT Initiative response in Vanuatu. When Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the SPRINT Initiative and VHFA started providing life-saving services to the Island, Tanna, which was the population worst affected by the typhoon. Many communities there live remotely, in grass huts, with no immediate access to medical care.  Julie was there with the VFHA team. “When I first came here we used the kitchen to operate from. On my second trip, we created a clinic in our youth centre, and used the nearby health post for clinical procedures. Soon we saw more patients pouring in, which created a huge demand for space." Health conditions are very low. Even before the cyclone hit the island, it was reported that the average mother loses two pregnancies each, in her lifetime. Every person in the village knows at least one mother who has died during child birth. Access and knowledge to family planning is overlooked as traditional practices are used first. As Julie explains, advocating about family planning is a challenge in the area, also for language barriers. “Talking about birth-spacing and talking in the regional dialect of Tanna is a problem. Most of us in Vanuatu speak Bislama, but people here in Tanna aren’t well versed with it. However, we try our level best with all possible methods including sign language and demos to impart knowledge about family planning.” Family planning services are just a part of the IPPF-SPRINT Cyclone Pam response, that also included general health check-up, counselling and awareness about Sexual and Gender Based Violence, maternal care and awareness and prevention of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI).