Condoms and Conversations in Togo
Six young women giggle with each other as they gather outside of a home to talk to a local community health worker. One nurses her baby on a blanket spread out on the floor and says hello.
Her name is Emefa Agotame. She is a 25-year-old sex worker in Lomé, Togo, with a fiery streak of red running through her hair. Emefa has had five children, but two passed away in their early childhood. After that experience, she started to receive condoms and other forms of contraception from Petite Soeur à Soeur, an organization supported by EngenderHealth’s Agir pour la Planification Familiale (AgirPF) program, which provides counseling on family planning, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV.
“Every day, Sela would see me on the street and ask me how I’m doing,” Emefa recalled. “I would ignore her every time. She never gave up on me, and now I can’t wait until I can see her and talk to her about life.” Today, five years later, Emefa and Sela Adjovi, a community health worker with EngenderHealth, still meet frequently to catch up and discuss any health-related issues.
The AgirPF project expands women’s access to and use of family planning services in five West African countries—Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. A number of factors contribute to unmet need, including lack of trained health care providers, inconsistent availability of supplies, prohibitive government policies, and even cultural barriers. To address these gaps, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/West Africa, EngenderHealth, and its partners work together to expand women’s access to and use of family planning services. In particular, AgirPF increases informed decision making and broadens voluntary use.
Equipped with her new knowledge on condoms and reproductive health, Emefa wanted to learn more and ensure that she would not get pregnant if she did not want to or lose another child because of a health issue. Sela asked what she thought about spacing her pregnancies and referred Emefa to receive in-depth counseling about her options from a clinic supported by AgirPF. After being informed about her choices, Emefa decided on the three-year implant method of contraception. She looks forward to staying protected and well-informed on her sexual and reproductive health.