In Peru, Family Planning Through Radio Programs

Peru Personal de salud durante entrevista. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In Peru, women of reproductive age represent a full quarter of the population -- which means there are about 6.75 million women with potential family planning needs.  In the region of San Martín, 29.4 percent of women do not use any method of family planning; in the regions of Ayacucho and Ucayali, the percentage increases to 30.3 percent and 33.1 percent respectively. Less than half of all Peruvian women in rural areas use modern methods of family planning, such as oral or injectable contraceptives or male or female condoms.

To help close this gap, the MSH-led Healthy Communities and Municipalities II project, funded by USAID, is using radio programs to disseminate and promote information on the voluntary and informed use of contraceptive family planning methods. These messages are being broadcast to women and men in 169 communities and 20 districts in the regions of Ucayali, San Martin and Ayacucho.

The main purpose of these radio programs is to promote healthy behaviors that contribute to improving maternal and child health, family planning, sexual and reproductive health. In this context, the topic of family planning is one that is frequently highlighted, both in interviews with specialists and in informational messages to encourage women and men to use modern methods of contraception. The messages are always prepared using a gender perspective. For example, traditionally family planning messages have been aimed at women, but through these radio programs, the messages are also being directed at men.

Three radio programs are currently being aired in the region. "La salud en tus manos" (Health in your Hands) airs in Ayacucho once a week; while "Mejorando nuestra salud" (Improving our Health) and "Enlace Saludable" (Healthy Link) are broadcast three times weekly in Ucayali and San Martin respectively. All these programs are hosted by local residents, including journalists and health workers that have been previously trained by USAID's Healthy Municipalities and Communities II project staff.

In addition to the radio programs, the project also implements a community health surveillance program where communities collect biannual information and carry out actions in response to the findings from the data to improving knowledge and use of family planning methods. These actions are also targeted to improve maternal and child health practices. This process of community health surveillance is supported by the active participation of community leaders and community organizations. The USAID Healthy Communities and Municipalities II project's combined strategy of radio messaging and community health surveillance continues to promote greater knowledge and behavior change to improve the family planning challenge in Peru.

As Xenia Rios Rios, a listener of the "Enlace Suladable" said, "Radio programs help us a lot to be informed about topics that us women should know about. For example, how to care for ourselves, what methods to choose. They encourage us to deliver our children at the hospital when we get pregnant."

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