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Improving Reproductive Health through Community-based Services: 25 Years of Pathfinder Experience

Pathfinder International works with communities at the grassroots level to expand access and knowledge, stimulate acceptance, and create awareness and ownership of reproductive health and family planning services. Pathfinder  has been implementing community-based programs since 1979, when it began the first community-based distribution of family planning information and commodities in Bangladesh and Kenya. In the 1980s and ’90s, Pathfinder initiated the first community-based services in Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. We were among the first to implement wide-scale community-based services in Ethiopia and Nigeria. And in the 1980’s Pathfinder supported wide-reaching programs in Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. Using a variety of approaches, including door-to-door delivery, depot holders (community members who sell family planning commodities out of their homes or small stores), mobile clinics, and clinic outreach,  Pathfinder has proven that working with communities at the grassroots level is an effective way to improve access and challenge socio-cultural barriers to reproductive health and family planning services.

Over the past 25 years, Pathfinder has learned many lessons about what makes community-based programs thrive. Outlined in this report are some of the lessons learned and examples of how these programmatic concepts are integrated into our work.

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