Marie Stopes International
Faustina Fynn-Nyam, Country Director for Marie Stopes in Ghana
Faustina Fynn-Nyame is currently the Programme Director of Marie Stopes International Ghana, where she has held this position since 2005. Born in Ghana, Faustina’s family migrated to the UK at the age of 7 where she was educated and raised in the United Kingdom. Faustina attended Middlesex University (1995-1999) where she gained Bachelor of sciences (Hons) in Nursing. She is passionately committed to the reduction of maternal mortality and morbidity and has demonstrate this drive through an impressive career focused on reproductive health. Prior to her current position in Ghana, Faustina worked for MSI-UK where she successfully managed under-performing MSI centres in the UK. Through motivation of all team members, her efforts resulted in increased revenue, productivity and improved quality of service. Faustina also served as Nurse and Clinic Manager for the London Women’s Clinic and as a Nurse Manager at the Diana Princess of Wales Centre for Reproductive Medicine.
WestWind Foundation: Faustina, you have been very involved in women’s reproductive health and rights organizations over the past 10 years. Why is it personally important to you?
Faustina Fynn-Nyam: I’ve always wanted to work in women’s health and always in Africa, It’s my continent of origin and I know first hand how issues of access and inequality can impact women’s lives, and particularly the negative impact that a lack of access to quality sexual and reproductive services and counseling can have
WWF: How is family planning currently received in your country? What are some of the barriers you face on a daily basis?
FFN: A lot of women in Ghana know the words ‘family planning’ but the benefits of it have not always been communicated effectively to them. We go into communities and talk to women and men. We communicate, in ways that Ghanaian women understand and discuss how family planning can help to empower them to make informed decisions.
There’s a lot of fear in Ghana – young women are told ‘not to use FP b/c FP will make you infertile’. And thus when young women have sexual experiences for the first time, they are not using any FP methods and may not be ready for a child.. This cycle contributes to the high rates of unsafe abortion. 30% of all maternal deaths are due to U=unsafe abortions in Ghana; this is not acceptable.
Our program has been able to significantly increase access to family planning. We take services to our clients through our social franchise program, centres of excellence and our rural outreach team. Our outreach teams go to very remote areas, where communities are extremely vulnerable – in rainy season some of these communities are cut off for 2-3 months due to poor conditions of roads. Often in these places it is only MSI that is showing up and offering family planning services.
WWF: Why is it so important for Marie Stopes to operate in your country? What can they contribute that others can’t?
FFN: Before MSI came to Ghana – there was nobody else in Ghana delivering family planning services the way we do. We put the client at the centre of everything that we do. This has strengthened our relationship with our clients and the communities we work with.
As well as delivering services, we have been able to contribute to government strategy on family planning and the way that services are delivered, such as increasing the mix of contraceptive methods available. For, example we just registered SINO II implants in Ghana, which will help Ghana’s Ministry of Health to buy implants in an affordable and systematic way. MSI is actively working with the government of Ghana to reduce maternal mortality, morbidity and increase uptake of contraceptives.
WWF: What role does Marie Stopes as an organization play in the Women’s Health and Rights movement?
FFN: One great example of this is the work we do with women who come from the north of the country to become porters, these women are very vulnerable, often have been victims of rape and have never had access to health providers. We are reaching out to them and addressing their family planning and other health needs, including issues of HIV risk and prevention of gender based violence. We are active in talking to opinion leaders and women’s groups to make sure all women can have access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
WWF: What is the biggest challenge that Marie Stopes currently faces?
FFN: One of our biggest challenges is how to communicate to young people (15-24 year olds) who think family planning doesn’t relate to them. They are the most vulnerable and have a lot of misperceptions. In addition, parents still don’t want to talk about contraception and the rights of young people.
Reaching young people is a high priority for us and we are working with a number of partners to do this. Our website and face book page is well used by young people and we’re now reaching more people through the internet and smart phones.
We believe that social media is a key way to connect with young people and improve the way we link young people to sexual and reproductive health services. And even in rural areas, young people share cell phones, so we’re looking at things like voice activated software that will link to our call centre so that anyone can call in and speak to our trained counselors.
WWF: What has been your biggest success to-date?
FFN: Making a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of under-served women across Ghana – we now the largest private provider for family planning services in Ghana and I am so proud of all our work, our committed and dedicated staff and the opportunity to reach so many people who are in need of our services.
Last updated February 24, 2012