News / Africa

    Cell Phones Boost Access to Contraceptives in Ethiopia

    A group of village women meet at a coffee ceremony to discuss family planning and access to contraceptives. (Photo Credit: Marie Stopes International, Ethiopia)
    A group of village women meet at a coffee ceremony to discuss family planning and access to contraceptives. (Photo Credit: Marie Stopes International, Ethiopia)
    Joana Mantey
    Ethiopian women produce an average of five children in their lifetimes because less than 30 percent of women in Ethiopia - the second-largest population in Africa - have access to birth control devices.
     
    A project offering increased health services in portions of the largely rural countryside of this country proposes to lower the birth rate by increasing access to birth control with an electronic voucher scheme targeting young Ethiopian women between the ages of 15 and 29 years of age.
     
    The scheme is based on teams of health volunteers who offer rural women the chance to learn the benefits of birth control and have an opportunity to order intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and other birth control measures. The voucher system, which is run by the non-profit Marie Stopes International and funded by the government of the Netherlands, is meant to increase use of health services while addressing the unmet need for contraceptives.
     
    Listen to Joana Mantey's interviews in Ethiopia
    Listen to Joana Mantey's interviews in Ethiopiai
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    “It is a pro-poor approach,” said Abebe Shibru, deputy country director of Marie Stopes International, Ethiopia.  “So women who want to get the service can get it free of charge. So it would enable us to reach the underserved community in Ethiopia.”
     
    The e-voucher program, which began in Assela, Debre Markos, Shashemene, Nekemte and Dessie, started as a program passing out paper vouchers. It was expanded to 20 other communities and replaced with a system that allows women to received electronic vouchers as texts on the telephones of the local health volunteers.
     
    Teaching birth control through the coffee tradition

    “The voucher distributors go from home to home, organizing community forums such as traditional coffee ceremonies,” said Shibru. “So the coffee ceremonies will serve as an opportunity to discuss about family planning. If the discussant wants to get any service and can’t afford it, she will be eligible for a voucher program.”
     
    Three community workers stationed in these facilities offer clients IUD’s or any other contraceptive of choice, plus counseling and basic health care information. Abebe said the volunteers are given training, equipped with mobile phones and then sent out to raise awareness about family planning in communities.
     
    Vouchers in the form of text messages are sent to client’s phones. Another coded message is sent by phone to facilities called MSI Ethiopia Centers where the e-vouchers can be redeemed for free or subsidized family planning services. Currently, 86 percent of clients who visit clinics run by Marie Stopes International own mobile phones, Shibru said.
     
    About half of the 2,521 e-vouchers distributed since the program begun have been redeemed. Patrons can also access treatment from a group of health facilities of Marie Stopes International or be referred to government hospitals for free services.
     
    “The e-vouchers have helped us to reach as many clients as possible. For example, I can mention one of the centers where we initiated the e-vouchers. After the vouchers, the number of clients coming to the center increased by 20 to 25 persons,” Abebe said.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora