Abstract / Summary:
ABSTRACT: Background: Female community health volunteers (FCHVs) are a possible entry point for Nepali women to access timely reproductive health services at the village level. This evaluation assessed the success of a pilot program that trained FCHVs in early pregnancy detection using urine pregnancy tests (UPTs), counseling, and referral to appropriate antenatal, safe abortion, or family planning services. Methods: Between July 2008 and June 2009, the program trained 1,683 FCHVs from 6 districts in provision of UPTs and appropriate counseling and referral; 1,492 FCHVs (89%) provided follow-up data. Trained FCHVs provided data on the number of clients served and the type of services provided. In addition, the program conducted in-depth interviews with selected FCHVs and other reproductive health service providers on their perceptions of the program. Results: Of the FCHVs with follow-up data, 80% reported providing UPTs to women in the eight-month follow-up period. In total, they conducted 4,598 UPTs, with a mean number of 3.1 tests per FCHV. Among the women with a negative pregnancy test (47%), FCHVs provided 24% of them with oral contraceptive pills and 20% with condoms; they referred 10% for other contraceptive services, and provided contraceptive counseling only to 46%. Among the women with positive pregnancy tests (53%), FCHVs referred 68% for antenatal care and 32% for safe abortion services. Conclusions: Providing FCHVs with the skills and supplies required for early pregnancy detection allowed them to make referrals for appropriate reproductive health services. Results of this evaluation suggest that community health workers such as FCHVs are a promising channel for early pregnancy detection and referral. As the intervention is scaled up, the focus should be on ensuring service availability and awareness of available services, UPT supply, and creating viable options for record keeping.
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Timely identification of pregnancy is important to initiate antenatal care (ANC) among women with wanted pregnancies and to seek abortion services among women with unwanted pregnancies. [...] Lack of certainty about pregnancy status can cause delays in seeking ANC or abortion.
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