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‘One-stop shop’

Groundbreaking study recommends offering women family planning services alongside other medical care

March 24, 2017

In a new potentially groundbreaking study of health clinics in Kenya, researchers have found that pregnancy rates were reduced by as much as 30 percent among women who were offered family planning services during other medical appointments. By combining family planning services with other medical care, the study argued, women’s health could be greatly benefited — assuming that President Donald Trump’s recent reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule” doesn’t upend the process before it can even start.

The recent study was designed to shed further light on an issue that has been the topic of lively debate among public health experts — how best to “integrate” family planning services with other medical care. Groups such as the World Health Organization have long thought that “linking” services by having doctors refer women to nearby family planning clinics can be as effective as combining medical care and family planning into a “one-stop shop.” The lead author of the study, Dr. Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, said that his results indicated that the “one-stop shop” method was significantly more effective.

“Women get lost along the way” in a referral or “linking” system, explained study co-author Dr. Dan Grossman, noting that many women, especially poorer women, didn’t have the time or resources to organize multiple trips to multiple clinics.

“The barriers mount up, with the end result being women aren’t able to get the contraceptive method that they want,” Grossman concluded.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s recent reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule” means that no organizations that provide services relating to abortion can receive U.S. foreign aid. Clinics relying upon the integrated model would have to ensure that abortion isn’t offered or even mentioned by any of its connected providers — a prohibition that Grossman warned could lead to the dissolution of the system itself.

“They would end up having to go back to the referral model, which we were comparing [integration] to in Kenya,” said Grossman. “That just doesn’t work as well.”

Read the full story at Buzzfeed.


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