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It’s only 11am, but midwife Jenny Gomez* has already delivered two babies and inserted two IUDs I the front room of her house. She smiles good-naturedly as she cooks herself some eggs for breakfast. “All healthy, all happy,” she says.
Many midwives in the Philippines have clinics in their homes. When Jenny became a Marie Stopes BlueStar franchisee, her workplace was refurbished as part of the package. “It’s easier to clean, which makes it more sterile and safe,” she explains.
Historically, midwives in the Philippines do not provide contraceptive services. Now, as a BlueStar franchisee, Jenny pays a small fee each year. In return, she receives specialist contraceptive training, cheap medical supplies, brochures and diagrams to help explain the procedures to patients, and signage to advertise her services.
In the Philippines, one in three births are either unwanted or their mother would have preferred to have them later**, and only 34 percent of women use modern contraception**. “We don’t have much sexual education,” Jenny explains. “Natural family planning is the norm. We’re helping women cheaply access effective contraception so they can take better care of themselves and their families.”
The BlueStar franchise model is a great success story now used in nine countries. It’s cheaper than setting up clinics from scratch and the midwives are an invaluable part of their local community – women trust them deeply. This translates into rapid uptake and immense reach. “So many midwives are part of BlueStar now, we can help so many women who couldn’t get contraception before,” says Jenny.
“I used to only do baby deliveries – no contraception. Now I have extra income from my family planning and my patients can choose how many kids they have – everyone is better off.”
* Not her real name (not pictured)
** Philippines, ‘National Demographic and Health Survey’, 2008
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