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BFPA_25_YEARSBulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA)
28 years of expertise and innovations with care for the future


  
The Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1992, registered in public benefit. Its activities are oriented towards several main areas of work – access to health care services, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), health and sexuality education, advocacy for underserved groups, trafficking of human beings, sustainable development policies and prevention HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. The target groups of the organization are various and include mainstream young people, women in reproductive age, state, municipality and school authorities, health professionals, NGO and community leaders, teachers, journalists. BFPA puts special focus on marginalized and socially deprived groups – Roma, other ethnic minorities, blind and deaf children, young people with disabilities, rural women, children in institutions, young people with criminal record.
   In the statues of the Association it is clearly and unequivocally stated that “BFPA is non-politically-affiliated organization, which works for improvement of sexual and reproductive health of everyone – regardless of gender, ethnicity, creed or age.” The main goal of the organization is to create conditions for realization of the right of family planning and sexual health of Bulgarian citizens, as well as for promotion and popularization of reproductive health and health prevention ideas in Bulgaria.
The BFPA members that build up its staff, Management Board and the volunteer resources of the organization, have different professional backgrounds: medical doctors, midwifes, nurses, lawyers, journalists, teachers, psychologists, economists, social workers, health mediators, young people and representatives of the target groups of BFPA’s projects. This diversity of professional and social expertise has helped the organization to implement successfully over 75 projects, supported by over 50 different donors and donor programs. These projects were implemented along with our ongoing health, social and educational activities in Sofia and our branches in the country.
   BFPA is at the same time expert and also innovator and introduced for the first time in the country the concept of peer education, youth friendly services and medical and service delivery standards elaborated by WHO and IPPF. The conducted interventions include implementing of national-wide media campaigns, optimizing health services and screenings, wide range of trainings; conducting of researches, peer education etc.
   BFPA works to:
• Optimize communication channels for providing health info for a wide auditorium of adolescents and young people
• Mobilize and improve participation of young people in each stage of governance process.
• Reduce vulnerability to STI/HIV/AIDS for all with special emphasis on young people, including those with disabilities, in penitentiaries and other institutions and underserved groups such as Roma
• Improve the access to voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services and treatment national-wide
• Combat the stigma and discrimination attitudes towards affected with AIDS
• Promote high quality and affordable health services with special emphasis on young people, women and underserved groups
• Improve and increase access to high quality and systematic info on SRHR by using innovative tools
• Improve the quality and diversify the SRHR services especially for vulnerable, marginalized and underserved groups.  
• Increase the availability of SRHR services and supplies including contraceptives
• Empower women and equal opportunities 
• Provide mobile SRHR services in rural areas and works on the SRH component of trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation
• Increase influence on policies and legislation on SRHR on local and national level
• Sustain and enlarge networks and partnerships with relevant NGOs, governmental structures and international agencies working on health promotion, prevention and SRHR
   During these 28 years in Bulgaria the Association has reached over 120 000 satisfied clients of its reproductive health related medical services and has conducted over 320 000 gynaecological and contraceptive consultations. More than 36 000 consultations and tests for HIV, hepatitis B and C, chlamydia, syphilis and other STIs were done. On its own and in various networks and different partnerships, BFPA has initiated and implemented very important national campaigns on topics related to awareness raising, prevention of HIV and STIs, promoting health and improving access to healthcare for vulnerable communities. Over 20 000 young people, students, representatives of marginalized communities, teachers, health specialists, NGO experts, municipality experts, representatives of the government administration and social workers have undergone the organization’s trainings. Trained by BFPA, the educators and peer educators alone have reached over a million and five hundred thousand young people, vulnerable groups, students, specialists and ordinary people. And this is just a modest approximate figure – the real number of people we reach is substantially bigger and the effect multiplies permanently.
   BFPA is also a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and several other international and national NGO networks and since 1995 has shared its expertise many times in countries as Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia.

 

 

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‘My Body, My Rights’ – Successes and Challenges

Health mediators from Montana, Bulgaria, and their work in state of emergency
Montana, March-May 2020

Peter Cvetanov, Sonya Rumenova and Valya Alexandrova are health mediators in Montana Municipality. The three of them as a team are implementing activities part of the project of Bulgarian Family Planning and Sexual Health Association (BFPA) – ‘My Body, My Rights’ (2018–2021). In addition to their municipality, pilot work is being done in two other locations in Bulgaria: Yambol and Sofia. The project is implemented in partnership with organizations from Serbia and Romania, with the coordinating role of International Planned Parenthood Federation and is supported by the programme for social responsible business of the company MSD via their campaign ‘MSD for Mothers’. Main goal of the initiative is to improve the conditions for ensuring quality of family planning services for vulnerable communities and to build capacity and civil responsibility within the communities.
Sonya in a health mediator from 2013. She graduated economics, married with two children: a boy and a girl: ‘Several years ago Roma women from the neighborhood didn’t see doctors for prophylactics. Part of them were not insured, others simply were living with their prejudices and fears. We had two obstetrics-gynecologists as part of the Bulgarian-swiss cooperation program ZOV. They were visiting the health center in the neighborhood according to schedule. Then we decided to form local women’s group for self support, where initially timidly, but afterwards more confidently we started talking about examinations, contraception, family planning, prevention of sexually transmitted infections... The women from the group started little by little to shake off their fears.’ They just made progress and the activities on project ended. Only  mediators remained in the health center. And then for them new opportunity arose via the project ‘My Body, My Rights’. ‘It gave us the opportunity to continue just on time. The group for self support is developing; the health center in the neighborhood is alive again.’ Sonya succeeded to motivate a poor mother of nine children for IUD insertion. Before that she tried many times, but without any success. ‘I think that she was mostly afraid of being damaged by IUD. Now I know for sure that my long-term working with this woman was not in vain.”

 
Learning Action Partnership: Efforts for Guaranteed Sustainability

Sofia, February 12, 2020

The first for 2020 meeting of the Learning Action Partnership took place in Sofia on February 12, 2020. The agenda included review of activities done on project up to the moment, fixing of concrete future activities and defining small working groups for the different strategic directions.
Representatives of organizations and institutions who participated shared their working plans and the possibility of inclusion of other LAP members in joint activities. Part of the feedback was connected with the increase of fake news, including on priorities of the Partnership. The atmosphere of the event was businesslike, but with extremely well expressed solidarity and good collaboration feeling. In the debates during the meeting important actual topics were covered, such as increasing media and digital literacy of children and challenges, which we are meeting in our work with teachers with long practice on certain age and with burnout. Forming network of children and young people with innovative model of managing was discussed, which will aim decreasing the aggression of children under residential care. How to focus our work so that the efforts put to have guaranteed sustainability; science and research approach and regional and national level partnerships; the need to work together to change the environment – were among topics discussed during the event.

 
Most significant change: Documenting stories

Dolna Banya, January 24-26, 2020

On January 26-28 BFPA organized a meeting of the teams working on the project „My body, my rights” from Sofia, Yambol and Montana. Representatives of the three locations shared their experiences from the implemented field activities. We discussed problems which health mediators, self-help group members and their partners face and paid special attention on possible ways and strategies for solving. Participants put accent on good practices that had been identified up to the moment. It was the perfect time to watch and discuss several videos, showing the fieldwork as well as image “memes” with messages, which show benefits of family planning.
Participants gave feedback also for the freshly prepared Manual for self-support groups and for the Health application for mobile devices, which will be useful in the future work on the project and after its ending. Divided into groups by locations the participants from Sofia, Yambol and Montana worked on possible ways of documenting stories for the most significant change of people’s lives as result of the work of project teams and health specialists.

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