Press Releases

New Leadership at the Population Council’s Senegal Office

The Population Council Is Pleased to Announce the Appointment of Nafissatou Diop to Head the Council's Senegal Office

DAKAR and NEW YORK (20 April 2012) — Diop is a public health specialist. Her most recent post was with the Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI) at the International Development Research Centre in Canada, where she led evaluation activities. She also directed GHRI's efforts in Haiti to increase immunization rates among hard-to-reach populations and to build research capacity. In other positions, Diop provided strategic and technical advice to research partners in developing, implementing, and evaluating research as well as in using evidence to improve health policies and programs.

Diop began her career as a computer science engineer, developing and maintaining health systems software used in six West African countries. She also studied violence against women and created a resource database to help those working to improve programs for survivors of gender-based violence.

The Population Council has been changing the way policymakers address critical health and development issues in Senegal for nearly a quarter-century. For example, when researchers documented that nearly 20 percent of Senegalese women needed emergency obstetric care following unsafe abortion, the Council helped implement a training program for health workers that resulted in reduced hospital stays, lowered costs, and increased acceptance of contraception among women receiving emergency obstetric care.

Current projects in the Senegal office include:

  • Addressing the HIV/AIDS vulnerabilities and stigma of Africa's youth: Population Council staff are analyzing HIV-related issues facing young Africans and the legal, policy, and programmatic responses to the epidemic. The findings will be provided to Senegal's policymakers and program managers to help stop the spread of HIV among young people, who constitute one-quarter of the country's population.
  • Increasing access to emergency contraception: The Council is supporting a national network of service providers in Senegal to expand women's access to emergency contraception (EC). EC is included in the national family planning program and is free at public-sector facilities. But lack of knowledge among providers, potential users, and policymakers is widespread, and use in the public system is low. The Council recently completed a study to assess attitudes of practitioners and opinion leaders, including government officials, as part of an effort to develop strategies to overcome this barrier. Such strategies may include creating public awareness campaigns and activities; training providers; and strengthening logistics management to ensure product availability.
  • Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy (STEP UP): According to the Senegal 2005 Demographic and Health Survey, about 90 percent of married women are not using modern contraception. Therefore, the risk of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion is great for Senegalese women. Through the STEP UP program, the Council is conducting research to help improve access to family planning and safe abortion. For example, a country profile on unwanted pregnancies is planned based on desk review and secondary data analysis, and a prospective study of a cohort of preteens and teenagers will be implemented to explore attitudes, practices, and outputs and to develop interventions to reduce unmet needs for family planning in this population. Evidence gathered from our research will help improve program design, implementation, and evaluation and contribute to formulating more appropriate policies.
  • Assessing the acceptability of vaginal rings: Breastfeeding can provide natural, safe, effective contraceptive protection. But lactating women need family planning after their first postpartum menses, after they begin supplementing their infant's diet, or six months postpartum. The Council's progesterone vaginal ring (PVR) complements the contraceptive effect of breastfeeding. The Council is working to expand family planning options for Senegalese women by evaluating the acceptability of the PVR. The Council will conduct similar acceptability tests in Kenya and Nigeria and evaluate ways to introduce the method in settings where women want to use it.

About the Population Council
The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.

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