To help address the issue of unplanned pregnancy and maternal mortality in the developing world, researchers at the University of Georgetown’s Institute for Reproductive Health (IRH) recognized the need for an intuitive, natural contraception method that could meet the needs of families that chose not to use medical or surgical alternatives. IRH developed the Standard Days Method (SDM), a simple natural family planning system that could be implemented in all countries and cultures across the globe. In addition, the team created CycleBeads to provide a visual, tangible tool to help women follow the method.
One of IRH’s first opportunities to roll out SDM and CycleBeads was in Mali, West Africa, where the team was asked by the head of family planning at the Ministry of Health to initiate a large-scale rollout. Despite some reservations related to traditional values, low literacy, and weak infrastructure in Mali, IRH decided to support the countrywide implementation. Unfortunately, the initial launch did not go well. In particular, fostering buy-in among health workers and expanding their capacity to offer the method was more difficult than the team imagined. Raising public awareness about the availability of the new method and how it worked was another challenge. In addition, IRH had trouble establishing an effective delivery and support model for the product. This mini-case study looks at how IRH adapted its approach to facilitate a more effective implementation of CycleBeads across Mali.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Victoria Jennings of the Institute for Reproductive Health and Leslie Heyer of Cycle Technologies for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.