A woman in Angola carries water gathered from the river for washing clothes and bathing her child. Access to clean water is a luxury in rural Angola and many people, like this woman, walk more than 8 kilometres, with their clothing and food on their heads and their babies on their backs. © 2009 Stephanie VandenBerg, Courtesy of Photoshare

A woman in Angola carries water gathered from the river for washing clothes and bathing her child. © 2009 Stephanie VandenBerg, Courtesy of Photoshare

The Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Angola to design an Integrated Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP) social and behavior change communication (SBCC) program. This HTSP program will be effectively coordinated  among local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs and INGOs), private sector enterprises and public sector stakeholders at the national and departmental levels.

The State of Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy Services in Angola

In 2015, the HC3 conducted a Situation Analysis of HTSP in Angola. The situation assessment revealed that significant progress in the area of family planning (FP) services has been achieved in Angola, thanks to USAID investment, coupled with the commitment of the MOH of Angola. However, the team identified entry points where SBCC could act to support and enhance both effective FP counseling and the uptake of FP services by clients to support the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies.

HC3 found that interventions that target existing attitudes, myths and misconceptions among FP service providers would greatly support FP uptake in Angola. After reviewing existing communication approaches, tools and materials, the HC3 Angola team also found that the dominant communication model used to engage FP clients and providers is the strict transmission of technical information. This observation opens the door to an exploration of alternative methods of delivering FP messages that take advantage of the spectrum of SBCC platforms. In terms of influencing social norms around FP, the team found that adding communication interventions aimed at men, mothers-in-law or extended family, or religious and community leaders, could amplify the uptake of FP services by women. Cultural norms in Angola seem to dictate a strong “reproductive” role for women, causing women to adopt FP in secret, although new norms are beginning to emerge as alternatives for women. Working to encourage this transformation of social norms around FP will be essential to increasing demand for FP services.

Current Activities

HC3 is working with the MOH to develop an Integrated Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy communication program. During 2016 and 2017, HC3 will implement a rapid formative research study to fill information gaps, work with the MOH to design its SBCC strategy for the program, support the MOH to develop implementation and monitoring plans for the program, and design and produce draft materials for adaptation and use by the MOH.