The Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus: A Toolkit for Family Planning Service Providers Working in High HIV/STI Prevalence Settings (Third Edition)

The Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus (BCS+) toolkit, developed and tested in Kenya and South Africa, provides the information and materials that healthcare providers need to offer complete, high-quality family planning counseling to clients living in areas with high rates of HIV and STIs. The BCS+ was adapted from the Balanced Counseling Strategy (León 1999; León et al. 2003a, b, c; León, Vernon, Martin, and Bruce 2008). The first edition of the Balanced Counseling Strategy and Balanced Counseling Strategy Plus toolkits are products of the Population Council’s FRONTIERS program, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Cooperative Agreement HRN-A-00-98-00012-00.

This third edition of the BCS+ includes content updated according to the latest WHO Medical Eligibility Criteria (2015). It incorporates the most up to date evidence on clinical indications for the provision of family planning methods, including new methods (Caya®/SILCS diaphragm and Progesterone Vaginal Ring), and includes five new counseling cards that address Adolescent Counseling, Male Services, Post Abortion Care, and Women’s Support and Safety. The updated cards include instructions for providers, guiding them through supplemental counseling and services that family planning clients may need.

The BCS+ has been well-accepted since its creation. Kenya has adopted the BCS+ as part of their national family planning policy. Previous editions have been translated into different languages and have inspired a similar, algorithm-based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system for family planning consultations, being implemented in Kenya.

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To provide health workers, policy makers and program implementers with accessible information on the latest best practices in FP counseling, a revised version of the Global Health eLearning Center’s course on FP counseling was released in August 2018. The course includes an overview of key concepts, essential knowledge and skills, values, steps and frameworks to provide client-centered family planning counseling. The course draws from the latest updates to the WHO Medical Eligibility Criteria, BCS+, REDI counseling among other models.

The course is designed for anyone involved in or planning for healthcare services or information including both facility-based and community-based healthcare workers, pharmacists, peer educators, and information technologies.

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