Francophone West Africa (FWA) is a vibrant and diverse subregion known for its strong national identities and regional collaboration. The nine countries that comprise FWA are home to some of the highest maternal and child death rates and lowest contraceptive rates in the world, but historically they have received less support from international donors for family planning compared to other regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Public and private partners in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo are working together to pursue common health and development goals, including enhancing access to quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.
Drawing upon its long-standing presence and strengths in Senegal, the Council is advancing a coordinated research, advocacy, and capacity-building program across FWA in support of country-level SRH strategies, national commitments to FP2030, the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) goals, and Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5.
The specific objectives of this program are to: 1) generate evidence related to task sharing, abortion and postabortion care, infertility, and other SRH areas to inform decisionmaking by donors, governments, and other partners; 2) increase the availability and utilization of evidence for program and policy design and evaluation; 3) advocate for enhanced access to SRH supplies and services, including safe abortion; and 4) ensure evidence-informed practices are identified and disseminated to key stakeholders in the public and private sectors in FWA.
Through its work in FWA, the Council has played a key role in supporting national governments, as well as long-standing regional partnerships including the Ouagadougou Partnership Coordination Unit (OPCU).
- Since 2014, the Council and OPCU have co-organized an annual journalism competition to promote news and commentary on family planning and reproductive health in OP countries. A 2019 evaluation cataloged the impact of journalists’ work on public discourse, policy, and program changes through the production of over 150 media pieces on reproductive health across the nine countries in FWA.
- The Council also remains committed to national and regional collaboration to ensure access to safe abortion. Building on engagement with Senegal’s Ministry of Health and existing relationships with regional civil society and ministry partners, the Council convened the first regional workshop of advocacy committees and associations working to expand access to safe abortion, to enhance collaboration and information sharing.
- To advance shared goals around contraceptive access, the Council obtained the market authorization for the progesterone vaginal ring (PROGERING) in Senegal. Supported by an earlier Council acceptability study on the progesterone vaginal ring (PVR), Senegal became the first African country to register the method for breastfeeding women in 2020.
- Recently, the Population Council, along with other partners, provided technical support to Senegal’s Ministry of Health/Mother and Child Health Directorate for the elaboration of Senegal’s new FP2030 commitments. The Council continues to collaborate closely with WAHO to identify potential areas of support in the organization of annual ECOWAS forums.
This project is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.