In January 2017, the Philippine Government mandated implementation of strategies intended to accelerate the uptake of family planning services. National and regional health offices were tasked to expand access to quality family planning services to individuals and couples who want to space or limit births but are not currently using contraception. Despite this mandate, regional program managers noted slow and uneven progress.
USAID, through the LuzonHealth Project implemented by RTI International, saw this as an opportunity to introduce a new approach to its Project sites. The collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) approach fosters the idea of sharing of knowledge about what works and promotes learning and agility to make adjustments as needed. It promotes use of performance monitoring to pause and reflect on implementation. It fosters iterative course corrections and improvements throughout the lifespan of a project.
Through a series of Pause and Reflect workshops, USAID assisted its project partners to better understand the issues involved in expanding access to family planning services. The workshops allowed partners to learn from each other’s good practices in generating demand and providing services, and re-examining the responsiveness of their strategies using facility-level data. These pause and reflect sessions created a sense of urgency that prompted participants to implement focused actions.
Six months later, some provinces have demonstrated improved family planning performance. For instance, in Batangas Province, the average monthly new family planning acceptors for the first six months of 2018 increased by 43 percent compared to the same period in 2017. Cavite Province, on the other hand, posted a 13 percent increase. The local government units believe that as they continue to collaborate, adapt and learn from each other, family planning indicators will continue to improve. The regional health office in Central Luzon has replicated this approach for its family planning program implementation review in non-USAID-assisted provinces.
Dr. Ruth Punzalan, Municipal Health Officer of Tanza, expressed her appreciation of the CLA process, which has been used in two program implementation reviews in her province. “The CLA is very helpful to health center service providers particularly in making sure that our programs move in the right direction. We have been able to adopt new strategies and innovations to improve family planning and maternal health services in our municipality.”