Maternal mortality and morbidity rates in Burkina Faso are among the highest in the world. A Burkinabe woman dies from pregnancy-related complications every three hours, and for each maternal death that occurs, 20 to 30 women suffer from pregnancy-related disabilities. Approximately 29% of Burkinabe women have an unmet need for modern contraception, and maternal and newborn health programs remain severely under-funded in Burkina Faso.
The RESPOND Project at EngenderHealth has been on the ground in Burkina Faso since 2010 assessing local needs for family planning services, and developing a program to make these services more accessible. This two-year project will support Burkina Faso in its efforts to improve family planning programs and increase access to long-acting and permanent methods of contraception.
More specifically, RESPOND provides technical assistance with clinical training, quality assurance, approaches to service provision, evaluation, and research to the Government of Burkina Faso, local NGOs and selected facilities. In collaboration with the AWARE II Project, RESPOND also provides local support for behavior change efforts, assisting with communication material design.
Prior to this project, EngenderHealth worked in Burkina Faso under the USAID-funded Action for West Africa Region-Reproductive Health Project (AWARE-RH), collaborating with local organizations to strengthen health care and address broader issues relating to education, socio-economic inequities, and poverty that public health progress in Burkina Faso. AWARE-RH in Burkina Faso focused on three areas:
- Making motherhood safer
- Expanding contraceptive options
- Reducing health care costs for those in remote areas
EngenderHealth's work surrounding safe motherhood focused on developing a new treatment protocol to prevent malaria in pregnant women, organizing trainings for health care workers on HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis treatment, and encouraging the use of magnesium sulfate, an effective, safe, and low-cost medication, to treat eclampsia and pre-eclampsia in women. EngenderHealth also used an advocacy model called "REDUCE" to highlight the negative economic impact maternal and newborn death and disability can have on a country. As a result of EngenderHealth's advocacy efforts, government funding for maternal health increased from 8% of the budget in 2005 to 11% in 2006.
Shortage of skilled providers, inadequate supplies, and lack of accurate information about methods had limited men's and women's access to modern contraception in Burkina Faso. Through the ACQUIRE Project, funded by USAID, EngenderHealth collaborated with Burkina Faso's Ministry of Health, Pathfinder International, and other partners to develop a national plan to ensure the availability of family planning and reproductive health supplies, encourage the government to include funding for contraceptive commodities in the national budget, work with Burkina Faso's parliament to pass the Reproductive Health Law, increase access to family planning and reproductive health care, and organize a regional workshop to educate the nation's policy makers about global funding mechanisms.
Burkinabe people living in the rural areas of the country struggle to get adequate health care. In these areas, the nearest health clinic can be a day's walk away or simply too expensive. In order to help ease the cost of health care, EngenderHealth sponsored health insurance through community-based mutual health organizations (MHOs), which-encompassing both preventive and curative care-allow communities to pool their savings to pay for services when one of their members becomes ill.