Armenia one step closer to achieving universal access to reproductive health

Olga Loeber

Participants in the train the trainers workshop on family planning services at the primary health care level

The international community has agreed that improving maternal health (Millennium Development Goal 5) is impossible without providing high-quality services for family planning. The prevalence of contraceptive use and the unmet need for family planning are becoming indicators for this Millennium Development Goal. The progress in the use of contraception in Armenia has been quite slow during the past 10 years. According to the Demographic Health Survey in Armenia in 2000, 22% of married women used modern and effective methods of contraception. The recent survey carried out in 2010 confirms that the percentage is still low (preliminary data – 27%). More than one third of all women use traditional methods of contraception, and 35% do not use contraception at all.

The Ministry of Health of Armenia has given priority to building the capacity of primary health care providers to improve access to and the quality of family planning services and to ensure that reproductive health services are integrated into primary health care. According to a survey of health care providers, family planning was the most requested reproductive health service.

With the technical and financial support of the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health, the WHO Regional Office for Europe adapted the existing training modules to the needs of Armenia and assisted the Ministry of Health in carrying out training of trainers in Yerevan on 16–20 May 2011. Several of the WHO guidelines and tools such as Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (MEC) and the MEC wheel have already been translated into Armenian by UNFPA Armenia and USAID projects and were used during the training.

The Ministry of Health selected 20 primary health care providers to become trainers in promoting evidence-based high-quality family planning, and they successfully completed the training. One provider confirmed that she was very sceptical at the beginning but enjoyed the content as well as the form very much. "I learned not only about the latest developments in the field of family planning but also a lot about communication with my clients as well as colleagues."