This was originally published on The Huffington Post
Did you know that today is World Contraception Day? Many articles in your newsfeed today will likely call attention to the fact that despite ongoing advances in global reproductive health, there are still 220 million women around the world who want to avoid or postpone pregnancy but who lack access to modern contraception. World Contraception Day shines light on the urgent need for family planning and how best to get it into the hands of the women who need it most. A crucial but often forgotten link is the health care provider.
When I think about World Contraception Day, I'm reminded that at some point in our lives, all of us need access to reproductive health information. Who gave you the information you wanted and needed? I would like to introduce to you to Nurse Peace Ametsitsi, an everyday hero whom I met while I was in Ghana. Peace helps women at the Koforidua Polyclinic in Eastern Ghana -- up to 50 a day -- find peace of mind in their lives. This post is dedicated to Peace, and to all health care providers whose guidance puts us on a healthy path.
When I spoke with Peace about her work, her commitment to the women in her community shone through. She told me, "Family planning is my passion. I love to show my clients how it can change their lives and their futures."
With a balance of compassion and knowledge, it's no wonder that Peace has mastered the ability to put women at ease and win their trust -- skills that are critical for effectively counseling women on their contraceptive options. This proficiency is especially important when counseling Ghanaian women about contraceptive methods, including the intrauterine device (IUD), which many communities in Ghana have come to misunderstand due to the spread of misinformation from decades past. But through effective and quality counseling, people like Peace help women to obtain accurate information and understand the life-changing benefits that contraceptives can provide.
Access to family planning is a basic human right. But making that right a reality requires so much to be in place beyond a well-run health facility. The human link -- the trained health care provider who can counsel women on their options so they are able to make informed choices -- is essential. By expanding options for women in her community, Peace works to ensure their right to stay healthy, to care for their families, and to plan for their futures.
Today, Peace has taken her passion one step further by becoming a family planning trainer herself, helping other providers to increase their knowledge, improve their skills, and boost their confidence in reaching more women. She dreams of one day running her own family planning facility, perhaps closer to her hometown of Aboaba.
"The training lit a fire inside me for family planning," Peace said. "I have a lot of passion for my job, and I can't imagine doing anything else."
When it comes down to it, the quality of reproductive health care is quite literally in the hands of the provider. And with Nurse Peace, women at the Koforidua Polyclinic are in incredibly skilled hands -- not just on World Contraception Day, but every day.