Family Planning Key to Primary Care, Prevention-Based Approach

(KIGALI, RWANDA) Burkina Faso’s Minister of Health, Nicolas Meda, affirmed Burkina Faso’s strong financial and political commitment to improving public health through universal access to comprehensive health coverage, citing the key role of family planning and the importance of donors and partners in helping secure the additional resources needed to meet their ambitious goals.

He told health officials and representatives of organizations and agencies supporting reproductive health in West Africa that when they invest in Burkina Faso they are “working with a government that is investing [its own funds] in its people.”

He spoke at a reception hosted by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) and Pathfinder International during the fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) on Nov. 13, 2018.

Meda reported that the nation doubled its family planning budget in the past two years and achieved unusually rapid growth in its contraceptive prevalence rate (5.5 percentage points in just over one year, from 24.6 percent to 30.1 percent between late 2016 and early 2018).

Overall, Burkina Faso is investing nearly 13 percent of its domestic budget in health and is on track to meet the 15 percent Abuja Declaration target set by African Union countries in 2001, he said. In 2016, the government of Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré began providing free health care to pregnant women and children under age 5, now covering 96 percent of the costs, according to Meda.

“Burkina is at the forefront in the Sahel,” he told the room of policy and technical family planning experts working across the West Africa Region. “We are all very proud of what we are doing and looking to you all to accompany us in this journey to end preventable maternal, neonatal, and child deaths.”

In August, Meda joined PRB, Pathfinder International, and several other senior officials in inaugurating the Burkina Faso Reference Group on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The Group, composed of representatives of organizations and agencies supporting reproductive health in Burkina Faso, aims to raise Burkina Faso’s visibility on the international stage and mobilize the balance of funding and technical assistance needed to more effectively assist the country in meeting its health goals.

PRB President and CEO, Jeffrey Jordan, and Pathfinder International President and CEO, Lois Quam, co-chair the Reference Group. At the ICFP reception, they highlighted the opportunities for accelerating progress in meeting unmet need for family planning in Burkina Faso and throughout West Africa.

“The tremendous show of political will, expressed by President Kaboré and made manifest in the words and actions of Minister Meda and the Ministry of Health he leads, is critical to the expansion of access and services to the people of Burkina Faso,” said Jordan. “PRB is proud to join Pathfinder International in encouraging our partners and friends here at the conference to join us in reinforcing the Burkinabe in their efforts to create universal health care and expand access to reproductive health information, products, and services.”

Quam pointed to Burkina Faso’s commitment to primary health care and family planning as a model for the West Africa region.

“At Pathfinder we are committed to following Minister Meda’s lead and forming bold partnerships that can transform the lives of young people in the West Africa region,” said Quam. “I believe that the boldest partnerships are with young people themselves, giving them the opportunity for meaningful engagement on the issues that most affect them.”

During the reception, Dr. Alassane Mbengue of Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action, expressed appreciation for the partnership with PRB’s USAID-funded project PACE (Policy, Advocacy, and Communication Enhanced for Population and Reproductive Health) that empowers religious leaders to communicate about maternal and child health and family planning in Senegal.

He introduced Saliou Mbacké, President of Cadres des Religieux pour la Santé et le Développement (CRSD), an interfaith NGO based in Senegal. Cheikh Mbacké shared results from the Senegal ENGAGE initiative, which reached thousands in religious communities throughout Senegal. During the evening, PRB and CRSD launched a new Sahel regional ENGAGE partnership, designed to promote dialogue on the connections among reproductive health and family planning issues and faith-based attitudes and beliefs in four Sahel countries.

The Sahel regional initiative is also supported by USAID/PACE.