Mercy Corps receives two new grants for Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programs in Azerbaijan

The US Agency for International Development and Mercy Corps awarded two grants totaling US $1, 628,000 to consortiums led by Save the Children and International Medical Corps for reproductive health and family planning programs
The programs are designed to increase health care providers and families' knowledge of safe and effective options for child spacing and will cover over 17 districts of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, Baku - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Mercy Corps awarded consortiums led by Save the Children Federation (SCF) and International Medical Corps (IMC) grants totaling US$ 1,628,000 for the implementation of two programs to improve reproductive health (RH) and family planning (FP) services in targeted districts of Azerbaijan. The programs will be implemented in 17 districts of the country and will cover 74 communities in these areas.

A US$1,200,000 grant was awarded to a consortium led by SCF working in partnership with International Relief and Development (IRD) and UMCOR to implement a community-based "Program for Family Planning Reproductive Health Initiatives." The program is aimed at providing communities with health education, conducting training for peripheral health care providers, and increasing the availability of contraceptive supplies in a sustainable manner.

To this end, planned program activities include community-supported rehabilitation of peripheral hospitals, creation of linkages between pharmacies and drug distributors, training of health care providers and mobilization of communities through identified community peer educators. Additionally, the program will disseminate health messages in all of the target areas through television programs and local newspapers and educational leaflets.

A second grant totaling US$427,991 was awarded to International Medical Corps who will implement the "Azerbaijan Reproductive Health Initiative" program in collaboration with the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Working in the same areas covered by SCF, the program will develop a core team of 27 master trainers who will provide in-service training to peripheral health care personnel. The "Azerbaijan Reproductive Health Initiative" is designed to support the creation of a National Family Planning Technical Working Group, develop a national family planning training package and strengthen the skills of the National Reproductive Health Office's (NRHO) master trainers.

"The grants awarded by USAID and Mercy Corps are designed to address important issues and unmet needs in the area of Reproductive Health and Family Planning services," said Ms. Myriam Khoury, Program Director of Mercy Corps.

The shortcomings and unmet needs in the area of RH and FP services in Azerbaijan are many, including high rate of unwanted pregnancies, limited and or inaccurate knowledge and a continued low rate of applied modern family planning practices. An Azerbaijan Reproductive Health Survey conducted in 2001 found that while most of women knew some FP methods, only 32% are actually using modern methods. There is high rate of unwanted pregnancies with 57% of women reporting their last pregnancy was unintended. Most of women obtain information about FP methods from acquaintances/friends, parents, physician and partners, with only 10% receiving information through mass media and printed materials. There is wide use of induced abortions as a means to attain child spacing (3.2 per woman). The SCF and IMC-led programs have been developed to address these through community-led educational and capacity building activities that work in cooperation with stakeholders.

"These grants demonstrate USAID's commitment to improving health care services in Azerbaijan resulting in healthier parents and children", said Ms. Sue Leonard, Mercy Corps Health Program Manager. "All of the organizations in the selected consortiums are recognized worldwide in the area of Reproductive Health and Family Planning, and the programs designed by them are evidence-based and built on best practices. We all look forward to this new challenge to help foster a healthier Azerbaijan."

US Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. The agency supports economic growth, agriculture and trade, global health, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance in four continents in the world. USAID launched its activities in the Caucasus region in 1992. The Agency works to develop a prosperous and peaceful region, based on democratic principles, market economies and civic participation at all levels.

Mercy Corps is a not-for-profit, international relief and development organization that exists to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. In Azerbaijan Mercy Corps is the umbrella grant manager for the $51,161,630.00 Azerbaijan Humanitarian Assistance Program and is directly implementing the Business Development Services and Child Survival Programs.

International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief programs. IMC began working in Azerbaijan in 2000, and is currently implementing three health projects in Azerbaijan.

Save the Children Fund (SCF) is an international relief and development agency dedicated to making lasting, positive changes in lives of children in need. The agency started its operation in Azerbaijan in 1993 and is currently implementing community development, micro-credit and health projects in the country.

For more information, please contact:

Ramil Maharramov, Mercy Corps Azerbaijan Public Information Officer
4 Magomayev Lane
370004, Baku, Azerbaijan
Tel: (994 12) 97 51 72
Fax: (994 12) 97 76 65