Banja La Mtsogolo honoured in Ethopia on family planning

Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM), a Malawian family planning NGO founded by the Marie Stopes International Partnership, was last Friday decorated as outstanding organization with the first ever Excellence in Leadership (EXCELL) in Family Planning Award at this year’s International Family Planning Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Recipients of the EXCELL Awards were chosen from among nearly 100 nominations submitted from around the world.

The 2013 EXCELL awardees are Dr. Bocar Mamadou Daff of Senegal; Dr. Mengistu Asnake of Ethiopia; Blue Ventures of the United Kingdom (for work in Madagascar); Banja La Mtsogolo of Malawi; and the Government of the Republic of Malawi.

The EXCELL awards look towards the future of family planning by recognizing and acknowledging individuals, organizations and countries who are leading the way forward in family planning.

 BLM Director of Clinical Services, Prisca Masepuka accepted the accolade

BLM Director of Clinical Services, Prisca Masepuka accepted the accolade

About 4,000 family planning experts, governments, organisations and technocrats from all over the world attended this third global conference on family planning under the theme Full Access, Full Choice.

The EXCELL awards celebrate achievements, highlight best practices, and engender both a meaningful dialogue and a sense of healthy competition within the global family planning community.

“Malawi was chosen clearly because of its strong policy and commitment to family planning which has seen programs thrive especially increasing access to and modern contraceptive methods and services and as BLM, we are happy to play our part to that developing story,” says Nicky Mathews, Country Director for Banja La Mtsogolo from Blantyre.

Malawi’s Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara and MoH Principal Secretary Dr. Charles Mwansambo received the award for the Malawi government while BLM Director of Clinical Services, Prisca Masepuka accepted the accolade for her organization.

The family planning red carpet event also saw a major milestone unveiled at the conference-The Programming Strategies for Postpartum Family Planning- a joint effort by the World Health Organization, USAID, the United Nations Population Fund and ministries of health from many countries including Malawi.

It is a roadmap for countries for designing effective postpartum family planning programs at both the local and national levels – BLM will be piloting these strategies along with other FP partners in Malawi in the coming year.

“This resource is going to change how family planning is provided to women around the time of birth in the postpartum,” said Anne Pfitzer, a renowned family planning team leader for the USAID’s Maternal Child Health Integrated Program. She says that during postpartum – the time after childbirth — women have distinct and unmet family planning needs in most developing countries.

“We have seen that postpartum family planning is essential, is needed. It saves lives. We think that this resource document is going to help many countries do more to reach women, who right now may be confused about family planning options right around the time of birth. We know, I think intuitively that mothers don’t want to have a baby every year. Mortality curves show much better outcomes between three to five years between pregnancies.”

In fact, says Pfitzer, many women may be unaware of the risk of becoming pregnant again so soon after giving birth and the document will help address that area.

Organizers for the International Family Planning Conference, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, say that 27 developing countries show that “95 percent of postpartum women want to avoid another pregnancy” in the two years following birth. They added that “65 percent have an unmet need for contraception”.

BLM is a leading Malawian family planning NGO founded by the Marie Stopes International in 1987. It provides modern, affordable, long term and short term family planning products and services in often hard-to-reach areas of Malawi through its 31 health centres, 81 BlueStar social franchise health clinics and Pharmacies and over 600 mobile outreach clinic points.

Together with MoH and the Christian Health Association, BLM also offers free family planning services at more than 600 sites per month across Malawi to rural and low-income communities thereby averting an estimated 107, 999 unintended pregnancies,  378 maternal deaths and 15,254 unsafe abortions in 2013 alone.

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