But in Indonesia, as in many developing countries, progress has been uneven. And as part of the country’s efforts to expand that progress, health workers are now focusing on one of the most effective ways to improve health outcomes for women and children: expanding access
Although the number of Indonesian women using family planning tools has skyrocketed from 1 in 10 in 1950 to about 1 in 2 today, there are still millions of women across the country who lack access, information, or options that fit their contraceptive needs. During my last trip to Indonesia, I met three women who told me that they had had unintended pregnancies.
Ati, as always, is determined to be a part of the solution. Today, she runs a small clinic near the city of Yogyakarta, where she provides prenatal care, performs deliveries, vaccinates babies, and counsels women about their contraceptive options.
When I visited her at her clinic, she told me that she had just received a special certification allowing her to insert two forms of long-acting contraceptives: IUDs and implants. Many women in Indonesia — and around the world — prefer these longer-acting methods because they are an inexpensive and efficient way to reliably prevent pregnancies without relying on clinics or pharmacies for an injection or a daily pill.
Ati was so confident that these long-acting contraceptives would be in high demand that she inserted the first one for free, only asking that the recipient tell her friends. But despite her entrepreneurial instincts, Ati also mentioned that she never turns away a woman who can’t afford to pay. For her, being a midwife is more than a career — it’s a calling.