Malawi has a growing demand for family planning, with three-quarters of married women desiring contraception. Yet because of the Malawian family planning program’s success in meeting that demand, the country has one of the highest contraceptive prevalence rates in Africa. Use of modern contraception increased from 28% of married women in 2004 to 42% in 2010.
More work needs to be done, especially with large numbers of youth entering their reproductive years. Malawi will need to continue positive growth in modern contraceptive use through concerted efforts to improve the supply of family planning, establish an enabling environment, and continue to increase demand for information and services.
EngenderHealth’s RESPOND Project began working in Malawi in 2010 to provide the government and local partners with technical assistance for research, advocacy, and program planning. RESPOND worked with the Ministry of Health to identify areas of Malawi’s national family planning program that needed special attention, including expanding the availability of long-acting reversible contraception and of permanent methods, as well as responding to the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth.
RESPOND introduced EngenderHealth’s Reality Check tool to build national and district-level capacity to use evidence for advocacy and planning to reach their family planning goals. The tool was recently used during the development of Malawi’s first ever Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan, launched in September 2015.
In 2014, RESPOND introduced COPE® for Contraceptive Security, a quality improvement methodology designed to assist districts and facilities to address stock-outs of family planning methods and related supplies at the local level. COPE, which stands for client-oriented, provider-efficient services, reflects the need to keep clients’ rights as well as providers’ needs in mind while tackling challenges at the facility level. Since implementing the approach in two districts, stock-outs of family planning supplies were reduced and teamwork was improved up and down the contraceptive supply chain. Read more in our technical brief, On the Road to Contraceptive Security: Interim Results from a Quality Improvement Approach in Malawi (PDF, 256KB).
Today, at the request of the Ministry of Health, EngenderHealth is continuing its work to implement and scale up COPE for Contraceptive Security through an Innovation Fund grant from the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition. We are working in 10 districts in Malawi, at a total of 60 health facilities, with the goal of ensuring that contraceptive methods are reliably available.