Policy action points and approaches to promote fertility care in The Gambia: Findings from a mixed-methods study

Journal article


Afferi, A., Dierickx, S., Bittaye, M., Marena, M., Pacey, A. A. and Balen, J. 2024. Policy action points and approaches to promote fertility care in The Gambia: Findings from a mixed-methods study. PLoS ONE.
AuthorsAfferi, A., Dierickx, S., Bittaye, M., Marena, M., Pacey, A. A. and Balen, J.
Abstract

Introduction
In the Global South, (in)fertility care is scarcely recognized as a priority, yet the government of The Gambia has recently included it as one of the key priorities in its reproductive health strategic plan. This inclusion appears to be the result of years of engagement between policy actors, academic researchers, and activists in the field of reproductive health and specifically of infertility. However, the operationalization of the strategic plan may be hampered by multiple factors. The research aims to identify and analyze challenges that may impede the effective implementation of the strategic plan, thereby providing policy action points and practical guidance into the operationalization of (in)fertility care in the context of The Gambia’s health system.

Methods
This is a mixed-methods study with data from a survey and semi-structured interviews collected between 2020 and 2021 in The Gambia that were separately published. In this paper, we present the triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data using a convergence coding matrix to identify relevant policy action points.

Results
Six fertility care policy action points, driven by data, arose from the triangulation and interpretation process, specifically: (i) establishing and maintaining political commitment and national priority for fertility care; (ii) creating awareness and increasing the involvement of men in SRH and fertility; (iii) ensuring data-driven health policymaking; (iv) offering and regulating affordable IVF alternatives; (v) improving knowledge of and means for fertility care provision; and (vi) enhancing the collaboration among stakeholders and building links with the private healthcare sector.

Conclusion
This study found the implementation of the fertility care-related activities in the reproductive health strategic plan may face challenges that require careful mitigation through a holistic approach. Such an approach conceptualizes infertility not just as a biomedical issue but as a broader one that incorporates educational and socio-emotional aspects, including male and (not only) female involvement in sexual and reproductive health. Moreover, it is supported by a comprehensive health management information system that includes capturing data on the demand for, and access to, infertility services in The Gambia health system.

KeywordsInfertility; Gambia ; Fertility care
Year2024
JournalPLoS ONE
PublisherPLoS
ISSN1932-6203
Official URLhttps://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0301700
Publication dates
Online14 May 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Mar 2024
Deposited05 Jun 2024
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Open
Output statusPublished
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