This year has been a time for operational and strategic strengthening. In the near future we plan to scale up our programs to reach more women who need the services we provide. In preparation, we have streamlined many internal procedures, staff responsibilities, and programs to ensure that we utilize our resources as efficiently as possible.2014 has also seen the development of many partnerships. We have strengthened and formalized partnerships with the City of Puerto Princesa and the City Health Department, as well as the Department of Social Welfare and Development. We will work closely with these partners in 2015.
Thanks to the evaluation and improvements undertaken over the course of the year, we have managed to achieve a great deal. Here are some of the highlights:
We are pleased with the results of the combined efforts of our Community Health Advocates (CHAs) and our Clinical Team. In 2014 we saw a 10% increase in contraceptive acceptors per quarter throughout our communities. By the end of the year we had provided contraceptives to 771 women, a 70% increase from 2013. We attribute this growth to word of mouth and more women accepting that modern contraceptives are safe and effective. Additionally, the dropout rate from the Contraceptive Acceptors Program was only 5%.
The Healthy Pregnancy Program continues to flourish. In 2014 our Clinical Team provided 664 prenatal checkups to 162 women, translating to an average of 4.5 checkups per woman. We were also able to pay for 31 women with high risk pregnancies to give birth in an accredited facility — double the number that we supported in 2013. We partnered with birthing facilities so that our midwife, May Arzaga, could assist women with birthing in established clinical sites. The women were very happy with this arrangement, as they felt more comfortable with May since she administered all their prenatal checkups. As a result of our referrals, the number of women giving birth in a facility increased to 80%, up from 72% in 2013.
In 2014 we started two pilot sites – Jacana and Pastoda. While both have a high poverty index, they are too small for the complete range of our services. We started with the Reproductive Health Curriculum, and our Clinical Team provided checkups and contraceptives. We have now trained CHAs in both communities.
These additions bring the number of active CHAs to 32. These women continue to grow in knowledge and stature in their communities. In addition to quarterly CHA trainings, we now also provide monthly small-group trainings where the CHAs obtain knowledge and skills that help them improve the health of their communities.
The teachers of our Financial Literacy Program taught 156 women the fundamentals of mathematics and relevant financial skills to empower them to manage their finances more effectively. Although on the surface this program may seem a bit outside our scope of work, we believe that true empowerment needs a financial component to help women raise themselves out of poverty.
We are very proud of our High School Teaching Team, who taught a record 2,835 students this year. The impact of this program cannot be overstated considering the shockingly low level of sexual health knowledge in our communities.
For instance, prior to participating in our classes, 73% of grade 9 and 10 students in our high schools believed that jumping up and down after sex would prevent pregnancy. After our intervention, we saw a 51% increase in sexual and reproductive health knowledge and 74% of young people reported that they will use a form of modern contraception the next time they have intercourse.
Our work with young people also extended to communities, where we trained 52 Youth Advocates. These Advocates are passionate about influencing their friends in a positive way and improving their communities. Over the summer vacation we worked with them intensively and took them on field trips to expand their horizons and open their eyes to the future possibilities beyond their communities.
Although 2014 was a busy year filled with growth, we are continually striving to reach more women and young people. Together with our New York Board of Directors and Philippines-based Advisory Committee, we have been envisioning the future of the organization and how we can grow sustainably. We are always mindful not to expand at the expense of the quality of our services, and we have put mechanisms in place to ensure the continued high standard of our programming. In 2015 we plan to expand into at least two new communities in Puerto Princesa. We will also explore and develop a pilot program for women in an isolated community where there is a great need for our services.
Thank you for your continued support of our work.