KARACHI – Minister for Health and Population Welfare Sindh, Dr Azra Pechuho, chaired a meeting with Country Director Willows International, Dr Samina Afzal, regarding the work being done by Lady Health Workers (LHWs) in Sindh with special focus on family planning and birth control. Parliamentary Secretary for Health in Sindh Assembly, Qasim Siraj Soomro, DG Population Welfare, Dr Talib Lashari and Deputy DG RMNCH were also in attendance. The organisation Willows International is partnering with Sindh Health Department in order to better deliver the healthcare services that are needed by those in the province. The focal points of presentation were pertaining to the trainings that are being provided to LHWs through Willows International. The organisation is delivering trainings on family planning, immunisation of new-borns, nutrition of pregnant women and new mothers and how to make weekly visits in order to avail the services of Willows International using their box system. The programme has had positive impacts in terms of family planning and population welfare, and the organisation has recorded an increase in long acting/ permanent methods of birth control such as IUCD and implants. The LHWs that are utilising the Willows Programme are showing better performance in serving, referring and following check ups with women who need family planning services. The Willows International Management Information System allows for the work being done by LHWs to be better recorded, more streamlined and efficiently organised so that it is possible to see which persons are being seen by which LHW and what the individual healthcare needs were that were resolved by the LHW. However, reluctance has been seen towards more permanent methods of family planning such as IUCD and LHWs prefer administering more short-term methods as they are less complicated. So far there have been 55 LHWs and 4 Lady Health Supervisors who have been trained under the Willows International Programme and the training took a total of 6 days.
The software used by Willows International is fully functional and allows the LHWs to design their own work schedules which improves their performance and productivity.
Under the Population Welfare Department, there are 300 male mobilisers that have so far been trained under the Willows International Programme. There are some challenges when it comes to male usage of contraceptives and family planning as there are misconceptions about their perceived side effects. Willows International along with the Sindh Health Department will retain the male mobilisers under the Family Planning Programme in order to resolve this issue.