Marine Conservation Organisation Receives Family Planning Leadership Award

Marine conservation organisation Blue Ventures received an Excellence in Leadership for Family Planning (EXCELL) award at the International Conference on Family Planning held in Ethiopia this month.

Over 3,000 delegates from more than 100 countries gathered at the conference, which was centered on the theme “Full Access, Full Choice”, to discuss effective ways of delivering voluntary family planning services worldwide.

Blue Ventures was one of just two organisations to be presented with an EXCELL award at this global event. The selection committee praised Blue Ventures’ trailblazing commitment to providing isolated communities with full access to voluntary family planning services, as well as its progress in advocating for other conservation organisations to adopt this integrated Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach. 

Blue Ventures_population environment program

Caroline Savitzky, Community Health Programme Coordinator for Blue Ventures in Madagascar, received the EXCELL award from Professor Amy Tsui, Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, and His Excellency Dr. Kesete-Birhan Admasu, Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (photo credit: David Colwell).


PHE was held up as an exemplary model for reaching the hardest to reach communities with reproductive health services. Over the past six years, Blue Ventures has worked with 40 remote communities in southwest Madagascar, leading to a more than fivefold increase in contraceptive use from 10% in 2007 to 55% in 2013. 

The selection committee, convened by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, judged nominations on the basis of their proven impact and potential reach. The inaugural EXCELL awards recognise major breakthroughs in the areas of family planning demand generation, service provision, research and advocacy.


Upon accepting the award, Caroline Savitzky called attention to the extraordinary commitment and impact of Balbine and her fellow community health workers (photo credit: Emilie Filou).


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Madagascar nominated Blue Ventures for the award, stating:

“Blue Ventures is demonstrating how conservation organisations working in remote, highly biodiverse and under-served areas can address unmet family planning needs effectively within a rights-based framework. They have forged strong partnerships with the Madagascar Ministry of Health, Marie Stopes Madagascar and Population Services International to integrate community-based reproductive health services within their existing marine conservation and coastal livelihood initiatives.”

Speaking about winning the award, Dr Vik Mohan, Medical Director of Blue Ventures, said:

“This award honours the tremendous dedication of Blue Ventures’ excellent community health team, and represents high-level endorsement for our integrated PHE approach. It is remarkable for a marine conservation organisation to be receiving this award! This is clear communication from the international family planning community that PHE offers an innovative, powerful and desperately needed model for providing some of the world’s most under-served communities with full access to reproductive health choices.”

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