Laura Harris, MPH candidate, and Kristina Kastler, MPH candidate
Laura and Kristina spent 10 weeks in Tigray, Ethiopia working to support a project that makes it easier for women in rural Ethiopia to obtain contraception. The project trains Community Based Reproductive Health Agents (CBRHAs), lay women from rural villages, to provide injectable contraceptives to women in their community. Women living in these villages struggle to access contraception because they live far from health providers. Also, some women want to keep their use of contraception private, or have husbands who don’t approve of it. Injectable contraceptives are by far the most preferred form of contraception in the region. CBRHAs provide a convenient, private alternative to health facilities for women who want to use injectable contraceptives.
Kristina and Laura visited 48 individual CBRHAs and HEWs in their homes and health posts, respectively, and conducted 17 in-depth CBRHA interviews to learn from their experiences with the program. The interns also worked with local project staff to organize 10 experience-sharing meetings, covering all project districts. These meetings increased and standardized knowledge about the project goals and monitoring procedures, allowed for verification of project data, and provided an opportunity to troubleshoot common issues and share best practices. The meetings also gathered valuable information that will be used to train new CBRHAs and HEWs when the project is scaled to other districts.