For many years, Romania has had one of the highest abortion and maternal mortality rates in Europe. More than half of maternal deaths are caused by complications from abortions, as Romanian couples have historically used abortion as a means of family planning.
In this context, the Romanian Family Health Initiative (RFHI) started in 2001 as a partnership between US and Romanian Governments. The Initiative was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI).
The Romanian Family Health Initiative aimed to increase access to and use of family planning and reproductive health services among underserved populations, especially women between 15-49 years of age. Preventive care and adopting healthy behaviors, including the use of family planning, is important for underserved populations when planning optimal family size and other lifestyle choices. With this in mind, RFHI used an integrated approach to create a safety net of services offered to women by working at key entry-points to the primary health care system (family doctors' offices, family planning clinics, abortion wards and maternities), in order to offer quality and accessible family planning services.
In addition, RFHI addressed emerging public health issues, working on the frontline of prevention activities during floods and avian influenza outbreaks, and curbing the impact of HIV and AIDS in Romania. All of the RFHI interventions were supported by sustainability measures for the programs and the local NGOs involved, ensuring the continuation of objectives beyond the lifespan of RFHI.
Activities were carried out within the National Framework Programs of Romania and implemented by key Romanian and international NGOs: Society for Education in Contraception and Sexuality (SECS), Population Services International (PSI), the Romanian Association against AIDS (ARAS), Youth for Youth Foundation (YfY), and the East European Institute for Reproductive Health (EEIRH). In addition, UNOPA— the National Federation of Organizations of People Infected/Affected by HIV and AIDS— served as the partner for AIDS-related campaigns, and the Center for Health Policies and Services (CHPS) in the area of management.
The Romanian Family Health Initiative ended in December 2007.