USAID (click here to visit USAID's website) Falah (Family Advancement for life & health)
 
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Family Advancement for Life and Health
 
Family Advancement for Life and Health (FALAH) was a USAID funded five year project in reproductive health and family planning whose aim was to protect the health and well being of mothers, newborns and children through the adoption of birth spacing by eligible couples in Pakistan. The project was implementedin 15 districts of all four provinces Population Council Pakistan was the lead partner along with a consortium of a number of national and international implementing and technical partners. Specifically, the goal of FALAH was to bring about an increase in the adoption of birth spacing behavior and practice of the WHO recommended birth spacing interval under the guidelines of “Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies” (HTSP), thereby bringing about marked improvements in maternal/child health and decline in their mortality rates due to pregnancy related complications.

This was achieved through removing barriers, improving understanding of the benefits of birth spacing, increasing awareness of the risks associated with early, late, closely spaced and high parity pregnancies, increasing knowledge of the various contraceptive options available , and improving access to and quality of care in both the public and private sectors.The major collaborative partners and institutions were the project consortium partners (Population Council, Jhpiego, Greenstar social marketing, HANDS, RSPN, and Save the Children, USA), the Federal Ministry of Population Welfare(PWD), the Federal Ministry of Health, the four Provincial Departments of Population Welfare and Health, the EDOs and the executive officers for PWD and Health in the 15 District Governments, and external partners of FALAH including PAIMAN, TACMIL, UNICEF and UNFPA and the donor USAID....(more)
 
 
Seminar on "Family Planning Revitalized: Evidence from FALAH" held in Islamabad
 
The Population Council’s FALAH project organized a one day seminar on ‘Family Planning Revitalized: The Evidence from FALAH’ at Karachi on March 21, 2012 to share the experiences, lessons learnt and the impact of FALAH’s various interventions on the lives of the people in the project districts. The seminar was attended by more than 200 participants including representatives from Health, Population Welfare and other relevant government departments, USAID, donor organizations, academics, NGOs, and civil society.
Chief of Party FALAH, Dr Ali Mir presented an overview of the FALAH project including the process, project components and implementation. Dr Arshad Mehmood, Director Research, Monitoring & Evaluation presented the results of Endline survey. According to the results, the FALAH project has been very successful in raising the Contraceptive Prevalence on average by 8.5% in its projects districts, a remarkable achievement, with the uptake highest amongst the poor, rural and younger couples. This has been possible to a great extent by involving and sensitizing men in the family planning debate and through FALAH’s Information, Education (IEC) initiatives and training of providers to proactively provide services.
Recent Events
Husbands group meetings held to familiarize men with the “Birth Spacing” concept, have proved successful. The initiative to involve the religious community has also been a resounding success, with the FALAH project sensitizing 1,470 religious leaders on the benefits of “Birth Spacing.” Many of these religious leaders have become advocates of HTSP messages in their communities.
In addition to that, FALAH has introduced the Basic Minimum Family Planning Contents Package into the medical, nursing and midwifery curriculum, which incorporates a client-centered approach to offering family planning services. FALAH established hands on skills labs on various family planning techniques, trained master trainers to sustain training in quality family planning, and developed the paramedical curriculum on birth spacing. FALAH strengthened 4 nursing schools and 24 community midwifery schools.
The project has trained more than 35,000 managers and health care providers from public and private sectors; especially Lady Health Worker (LHW) to provide client centered reproductive health service. A third party evaluation points to a rise in Lady Health Worker’s visitation rate and family planning clientele in the project districts where the LHWs have been trained by FALAH. It also shows that the staff of 70% Rural Health Centers / Basic Health Units of Health Department is now providing birth spacing services.
FALAH has been a success and has reaped major dividends in terms of meeting the reproductive health needs of remote and rural communities through introducing the “Birth Spacing” concept in its 15 implementing districts.

During the panel discussion on “Linkages between Birth Spacing, Health Outcomes and Development”, the health specialists including Dr Khalid Shaikh, Additional Secretary Health, Mr. Ashfaq Shah Additional Secretary PWD, Mrs Sahib Jan MNCH Provincial Coordinator, Mr. Saifullah Provincial Coordinator Lady Health Worker Program, Dr. Sher Shah Syed President PMA, Dr. Sadiqa Jaffery President NCMNH, Dr. Yasmeen Qazi Senior Country Advisor Population Program Packard Foundation, and Dr Naseerudin Mahmood Director SINA gave their view point and appreciated FALAH’s contribution in promoting the “Birth Spacing “for better health of mothers, children and the family.

In the panel discussion on “Sustainability and Taking Forward the Birth Spacing Agenda”, the representatives from the Government Department; endorsed FALAH’s strategy for tackling the unmet need for contraceptive services and making the project agenda more sustainable. The Additional Secretary Health, Additional Secretary Population Welfare, and the Provincial Coordinators for LHW and MNCH Programs expressed their keen desire that the FALAH project be continued and upscaled. While reaffirming their commitment to take the Birth Spacing agenda forward they also pointed to the lack of resources currently available in the provinces and therefore stressed the need for support from development partners.

In her remarks, Ms Nora Madrigal, Health Development Officer USAID, said that “we at USAID are gratified that the preliminary results presented today show the positive impact of the FALAH initiatives in improving the unmet need for family planning services.” “I believe seminars such as these can successfully take forward the lessons learnt over the past five years, make the lessons learnt sustainable and institutionalize the key interventions that have worked and reverse the unsatisfactory trends. USAID will continue supporting similar projects which are aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of mothers and children in the Pakistan,” Ms. Madrigal said further.

The Guest of Honor Mr. Khurshid Naeem Malik spoke on the importance of the “Birth Spacing” paradigm shift and the positive impact of the FALAH project in the province and endorsed the scale up of FALAH interventions in other districts. The Chief Guest, Mr. Imtiaz Shaikh, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Sind and Minister for Special Education also acknowledged FALAH’s contribution to Pakistan’s family planning debate and the Sindh government’s commitment to improving the reproductive health of its citizens. He also stressed the need to continue supporting projects like FALAH that have shown tremendous success in repositioning family planning as health intervention in the country.

Seminar on "Family Planning Revitalized: Evidence from FALAH" held in Karachi
To mark the successful completion of the four and a half year FALAH project and to disseminate the results of FALAH End line survey  a one day seminar was organized on ‘Family Planning Revitalized: The Evidence from FALAH’ at Islamabad on March 29, 2012 . The objective of the seminar was to share the experiences, lessons learnt and the impact of FALAH’s various interventions on the lives of the people in the project districts. The seminar was attended by close to 300 participants including the representatives from all relevant government departments including, Health, Population Welfare, Planning and Development, representatives from the provinces, USAID and other donor organizations, academics, NGOs, FALAH partners, civil society representatives and media. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Sector Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali was the Chief Guest at the seminar, which marked the end of the project. Ms. Syeda Fiza Batool Gillani, the Goodwill Ambassador for Women Empowerment and daughter of the Prime Minister was the Guest of Honor at the occasion. Ms. Karen Freeman Deputy Mission Director and Ms. Nora Madrigal Health Development Officer represented the USAID.
Chief of Party FALAH presented an overview of the project including the process, project components and implementation. Dr. Arshad Mehmood, Director Research, Monitoring & Evaluation and Dr Gul Rashida, Senior Director Training presented the results of Endline survey. According to the results, the FALAH project has been very successful in raising the Contraceptive Prevalence by an average of 8.5% in its projects districts. The highest rise in contraceptive prevalence has been in districts such as Charsadda (12.7%), Sanghar (12.4), Rajanpur (12.2%), Sukkur (11.4%) and Mardan (8.2%) with the highest uptake amongst the poor, rural and younger couples. This has been possible to a great extent by involving and sensitizing men on the health benefits of birth spacing and through FALAH’s Information, Education (IEC) initiatives and training of providers to proactively provide services.
The Chief Guest, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, was highly appreciative of the FALAH project. She said that FALAH project had been a game changer that had turned everything on its head to put people at the fore front of the interventions. The well designed, carefully and comprehensively implemented project, has brought about a paradigm shift towards birth spacing, utilizing the media and effectively working in partnership with Government. Above all, she said, the solids results presented today show the greatest uptake of family planning had been by rural, poor, young and uneducated women. The results presented were evidence that unmet need for family planning can be addressed through interventions among the very group that was considered difficult to approach.
Ms. Wazir Ali also stressed that lessons from the FALAH project should not be Recent Events squandered and should be build upon further and expanded to the rest of Pakistan. She concluded her remarks by presenting the idea of having a second phase of FALAH to carry forward the excellent work done by the project.

Speaking at the occasion the Provincial representatives from Health and Population Welfare Departments, Sindh, KPK and Punjab said that they will continue to use the models developed by FALAH. They said that FALAH had defined a road map for Health and Population sectors to work together. Mr. Ahmed Hanif Orkzai, Secretary Population Welfare Department KPK also commended FALAH’s initiatives and explained how KPK intended to take these forward. The Additional Secretary Population Welfare department Sindh said “FALAH was not ending but opening several new doors for the provinces to take forward the birth spacing agenda”. Representing USAID on the occasion, Deputy Mission Director Ms. Karen Freeman, said that it is was indeed heartening to note that the FALAH initiatives have been well-received and there is a growing recognition, including within the religious community, that healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies contributes to the health of all mothers, children and overall development indicators.”What is now required as the next step, said Ms. Freeman, “is that the innovative interventions introduced by FALAH need to be sustained and scaled up so the benefits of the interventions can be reaped throughout the country.” Ms. Freeman thanked each and everyone and saluted those who had contributed to making the FALAH project such a success.

Speaking at the occasion, the Guest of Honor, Ms. Syeda Fiza Batool Gillani, highlighted the importance of the “Birth Spacing” as a successful model for improving maternal and child health outcomes. She said FALAH was a fine example of bilateral cooperation and appreciated USAID’s contribution towards improving the well-being of the people of Pakistan.

The Goodwill Ambassador stressed that the government, both at the national and provincial levels, our development partners and members of civil society must provide continued support and commitment to further the cause of women and children in Pakistan. She also requested the media to increase people’s awareness on various population issues such as the importance family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.

Dr Zeba Sathar, Country Director, Population Council presented the vote of thanks. In her closing remarks she said, “the time for family planning to take off and for fertility change is now and it would be one of the greatest mistakes not to ensure that we maintain the momentum that we have just built up. Our results merely show that if we continue with the same speed and if we can expand the FALAH experience to other districts we can raise our contraceptive prevalence rate in the rural areas easily to 43 percent and over 55 percent in urban areas by 2015. We must not let the opportunity to go waste, as the lessons and the models have been tested and are showing great impact.”