Increasing Family Planning Access and Choice: Key Lessons from Marie Stopes International's Clinical Outreach Programmes

Clinical outreach – the delivery of clinical health services by a mobile team of trained providers through periodic visits to a particular site or from a mobile unit – is an invaluable service delivery option for governments and service providers that are eager to reach underserved communities. This paper identifies a number of key lessons and emerging practices drawn from outreach programs of Marie Stopes International that can be taken to make clinical outreach programs more robust and effective.

In particular:

  • unmet reproductive health and family planning needs require identification. This can be achieved by using the latest Demographic and Health Survey data, health service data, site visits and input from the government’s health departments
  • appropriate locations for outreach services need to be identified. Clinical outreach sites can equally be located in remote rural communities with no service provider or in urban areas that have several service providers nearby
  • the geographical area covered by an outreach program needs to be mapped to identify appropriate outreach sites and to plan the schedule of each outreach team effectively
  • sustained awareness-raising activities are required to maintain the effectiveness of many outreach sites
  • rigorous clinical protocols, guidelines and procedures are essential to maintain high-quality services. Awareness-raising activities are unlikely to maintain the effectiveness of a clinical outreach site that delivers poor services.
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