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Community Engagement, Marketing and Communications

Throughout the developing world, biases and myths affect consumers’ and providers’ images of reproductive health (RH) and family planning (FP) services, reducing the acceptability of FP methods and impeding clients’ access to services. Countering these biases and myths requires efforts on three fronts: on the supply side, to increase providers’ awareness of and skills in meeting community needs; on the demand side, to help the health care system engage with the community, local partners, and FP champions to make clear, culturally appropriate, and accessible information widely available; and through advocacy, to promote positive policies and political and financial support.

The ACQUIRE Project partnered with ministries of health and local organizations to develop initiatives to improve people’s access to and use of RH, HIV, and FP services, especially long-acting and permanent methods of contraception (LAPMs). Initiatives typically started by examining factors that shape behavior—through formative research and through insights gathered across the social, political, and economic spectrum. To close gaps in information about and acceptability of RH/FP services, ACQUIRE designed and supported comprehensive, integrated approaches for revitalizing LAPMs and postabortion care, using community engagement coupled with communications and marketing efforts.

In Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, and Uganda, the focus was on the IUD. Work conducted in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Honduras emphasized improving the image of and the quality of services for vasectomy. Tanzania worked to promote all four of the LAPMs (hormonal implants, the IUD, female sterilization, and vasectomy) under an umbrella campaign supporting FP generally. Azerbaijan’s campaign addressed all reversible FP methods. In Kenya and Tanzania, interventions focused on improving access to postabortion care; in Nepal and Bangladesh, interventions were aimed at increasing access to integrated FP-HIV care and antenatal care for young married couples.

In this section of the archive, you will find a series of Acquiring Knowledge briefs and reports on country-specific experiences, as well as stories from the field that give a human face to those who served as champions. Also, you will find the Active Community Engagement (ACE) Continuum, which was developed by ACQUIRE for health program planners and managers, as a tool for establishing a common understanding about demand initiatives and to measure the extent to which projects advance community participation in health care. This section is rounded out with a sample of posters, presentations, and television commercials that relay ACQUIRE’s work in communications, marketing, and community engagement and may be of use in your work setting.