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| July 31, 2013

Reflections: Scale-up ‘lessons learned’ meeting a success

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want long-term success, take others with you.’

To IRH director, Dr. Victoria Jennings, this quote characterized the event hosted by IRH on July 25 to share lessons learned from scaling up the Standard Days Method® (SDM) of family planning across five focus countries. This event marks the last in a series of technical meetings organized by IRH during the final year of the USAID-funded Fertility Awareness-based Methods (FAM) Project, a project striving to expand access to and use of SDM, TwoDay Method®, and Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) within the framework of informed choice.

In their opening remarks, both Sarah Harbison (Senior Advisor for Program Research and Evaluation in the Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID) and the Honorable Minister Agnes Binagwaho (Minister of Health, Rwanda) highlighted the FAM Project’s focus on planning for scale-up from the start, an essential principle of the ExpandNet Scale-up Framework. “A key feature of IRH’s work has been anticipating scale-up from the very beginning all the way through implementation: effectiveness, cost, sustainability, and acceptability are all essential, and are most informed by the beginning trials,” Harbison remarked. Minister Binagwaho echoed the importance of national scale-up, mentioning the personal importance of family planning in her life: “I have two children and one beautiful grandchild now, but if I had not been able to plan my family, I would not have made it this far. There has to be a supportive environment for people to plan their families, and we have to give women the tools to keep their children healthy.”

The day continued with an overview of lessons learned from implementation and scale-up under the FAM Project—including the top ten reasons to integrate SDM into family planning programs worldwide, the successes and challenges of the scale-up process, and key recommendations for donors and implementers.

USAID’s Linda Sussman and IRH’s Marie Mukabatsinda, Priya Jha and Melissa Adams reflected on particularly interesting challenges raised by scaling up a reproductive health innovation through a series of rapid presentations available for download here. Subsequently, participants further explored these topics during breakout discussion, each developing a list of recommendations for future work. (Stay tuned for the full meeting report including these.)

After a panel of experts discussed the way forward for systems-oriented scale-up—featuring Gloria Asare (Ministry of Health, Ghana), Miriam Fernandez (APROFAM Guatemala), Laura Ghiron (ExpandNet Secretariat), Manish Ranjan (Mission Director of National Rural Health Mission in Jharkhand, India), and Dr. Marsden Solomon (FHI 360, Kenya)—the event concluded with a word on FAM success from USAID’s Mihira Karra, AOTR for the FAM Project. “It took 200 years to take Vitamin C to a treatment for scurvy. Depo was first tested over 20 years ago, and it took multiple avenues and multiple pilots to move it forward as a wide-scale modern method. SDM has moved [toward scale-up] very quickly comparatively.”

Said Dr. Jennings of the event, “This conference highlighted why I’m so proud to be at IRH. The work we’ve done over the last several years was strategically planned, thoughtfully executed, and carefully monitored and managed. With this as the evidence base for the consultation, we had so much to share.”


Missed the meeting? Download and share some of our resources:


Our thanks to our colleagues and partners, and to the many in-country partners who were not able to be with us, but to whom the greatest credit goes. USAID has been with us all the way, and look what we’ve all learned!


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