Options for International Health
Credit: MamaYe!/Ghana

Options for International Health

Options for International Health (OIH) is a registered charity, established by Options in 2015 as a charitable entity that can work alongside Options’ programmes to bring sustainable improvements in the health of women and children.

OIH focuses on those living in poverty, disadvantaged or vulnerable situations. OIH aims to:

  • Strengthen and increase access to healthcare services
  • Improve the quality of healthcare provision
  • Improve maternal and newborn survival through targeted research and analysis, the results of which are packaged to advocate for improved delivery of health services
  • Increase public awareness and attention towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM)

OIH received its first grant from UNICEF to produce data and materials for Countdown to 2015 to contribute to reducing maternal, neonatal, and child mortality in countries where more than 95 per cent of maternal and child deaths occur. The materials helped to raise awareness and encourage use of data for advocacy and decision-making by national policy makers, academics, donors, international and national non-governmental organisations.

OIH is the charitable vehicle through which grants aimed at ending FGM can be channelled to The Girl Generation. The Girl Generation is an African-led movement established in 2014 with funding from the UK government which today has a membership of 854 organisations, 93% from the African continent. Its aim is to end FGM in this generation.  The Girl Generation works with some of the most pioneering organisations that have been tackling FGM over recent years. In coming together as a movement, their actions are gaining considerable momentum and are galvanising to attract widespread support for ending FGM. OIH has leveraged additional funds for the programme from foundations such as the Human Dignity Foundation for the establishment of the End FGM Grassroots Fund, a grants scheme delivering flexible and accessible funds to local organisations who are often too small to be eligible for grants from the majority of donors. Since 2016, the End FGM Grassroots Fund has channelled over $1.6million to over 100 frontline organisations working to end FGM, reaching over 500,000 people across eight countries.

With funding from the Wallace Global Fund, OIH has been able to further extend the work of The Girl Generation through the following projects:

  • Face of Defiance. This short-term project used a photography exhibition to showcase and celebrate end FGM activists and survivors. In 2017, it was exhibited in Senegal and then at the Oslo Freedom Forum in New York. In 2018, Face of Defiance was exhibited at three locations in London, including Canada House and the Department for International Development for Zero Tolerance Day and at the Southbank Centre for the Women of the World festival. It has become an effective vehicle for drawing support and attention for ending FGM.
  • Turn Up the Volume. This training and grants programme supported The Girl Generation youth networks in Kenya and Nigeria to develop their advocacy skills and train others to do so as well. Both networks developed a 5-year strategy that was launched during the1st Pan-African Youth Summit in April 2018.

OIH also receives funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for Options’ E4A-MamaYe programme. The E4A-MamaYe programme is working to improve maternal and newborn survival through use of better evidence and improved advocacy and accountability for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) resource allocation in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Activities in these countries have three focus areas:

  • Increased use and availability of targeted, packaged evidence which highlights gaps in financial, physical and human resources for health, improving evidence-based decision making for improved quality of care.  This includes strengthening the collection, analysis and use of evidence from the Maternal Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response system.
  • Strengthening CSOs (including advocates, media partners, activists, health professionals, community leaders) to perform evidence-based advocacy, including health budget advocacy. E4A is supporting CSOs to understand and communicate evidence to influence health planning and resource allocation and equip civil society with the skills to analyse and use health budget data, participate in the budgeting and planning, and track health budget allocation and spend. A growing area of E4A’s work with CSOs takes place in countries eligible for Global Financing Facility (GFF) funds; E4A supports them to participate in the GFF processes at national and global level so that governments can be held account on their commitments to RMNCAH and nutrition.  
  • Facilitating stronger accountability mechanisms which enable civil society, health planners and policy-makers to discuss, monitor and review evidence together as part of a transparent decision making process which strengthens accountability for delivery on RMNCAH commitments.

Options for International Health is a registered company limited by guarantee (Company No. 91374505) and a charity registered in England and Wales (No. 1160066), registered office address is: 2nd Floor, St Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6HD.  OIH trustees are Alison Dembo Rath, Claire Morris, Faith Mwangi-Powell, Jo Elms, Richard Burge and Sally Hughes.

For more information:
Coalitions using problem driven political economy analysis
Wednesday, 21 Jul 2021 Kenya, Nigeria
E4A-MamaYe supports coalitions and CSOs to access and use tools such as political economy analysis to drive their advocacy agendas. Find out how this approach has worked in Kenya and Nigeria.
Thursday, 28 Mar 2019 Global
As The Girl Generation prepares to take its next steps in the campaign to end FGM, some of its youth activists came to London to discuss how greater support could enable Africa’s youth population to end the practice in one generation.
E4A-MamaYe launches blood donation campaign to save mothers' lives
Tuesday, 26 Feb 2019 Kenya
In 2016, one of every two maternal deaths that occurred in Bungoma County, Kenya, were caused by blood loss. E4A-MamaYe has launched a campaign, #DamuniUhai, calling for funding for blood services in the county.
Giving young people a voice on adolescent health in Bungoma County Kenya
Tuesday, 22 Jan 2019 Kenya
There are 200 million young people living in sub-Saharan Africa, yet older generations are still the decision-makers on issues like adolescent healthcare. E4A-MamaYe has been working to change this, giving young people a voice to ensure governments invest in their health and in their future.
Emotional Wellbeing workshop in Kenya
Monday, 26 Nov 2018 Global
The Girl Generation has launched an initiative to safeguard activists engaged in ending FGM, focusing on their mental health and wellbeing. Designed by End FGM Ambassador and psychotherapist Dr Leyla Hussein, the Emotional Wellbeing project creates support networks and teaches self-care techniques.
Small grants make a big difference in campaign to end FGM
Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018 Global
Since 2016, The Girl Generation has awarded grants to grassroots groups working to end Female Genital Mutilation. As the only small grants scheme working for this cause, The Grassroots Fund has received positive feedback through its support of small groups at the forefront of the End FGM campaign.
Technical Director
Alison Dembo Rath leads Options’ health systems work, with a particular focus on South Asia. She has over 20 years’ experience in design, management, monitoring and evaluation of health systems development programmes at policy and implementation levels. Building on her early career in nursing in the UK, Alison has particular expertise in delivering quality maternal and newborn health care services. Alison has experience of working across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, managing UKAid-funded maternal health and health sector programmes in India and Nepal.
Managing Director
Jo has been the Managing Director of Options since 2013, bringing insights gained over a career of more than 25 years in international development. Jo has held leadership positions in a range of organisations, both businesses and NGOs, and has substantial experience of developing strategies and partnerships across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Since joining Options in 2006, Jo has directed its portfolio of international programmes and has ensured the growth of Options has been combined with high standards of delivery. Jo is on the Board of Options for International Health (OIH), ensuring the programmes funded through OIH complement and benefit from the Options’ broader work in health, with governments, donors and a range of partners across Africa and Asia.
Independent Consultant, Options for International Health Trustee
Richard Burge is an independent consultant. Previously, he was a Partner at Itad, leading the company’s work on governance and institutional strengthening. Richard has experience working in the UK government and with civil society. He has particular expertise in designing and evaluating complex, large-scale governance programmes in Africa, introducing and measuring adaptive programming and management, conducting political economy analyses, providing capacity development and developing Theories of Change. He has worked with many clients including DFID, FCO, MOD, Danida, Sida, Comic Relief and various several INGOs, including Cafod, CARE and Christian Aid.
Regional Director, Viamo - West & Central Africa, Options for International Health Trustee
Sally is the Regional Director, West and Central Africa for Viamo. She oversees Country Managers who manage relationships with mobile network operators, co-design and implement projects with partners, and grow the use of mobile engagement to improve lives, reaching a million people annually. Before joining Viamo, Sally worked with Marie Stopes International as Country Director in Burkina Faso, Malawi and Senegal as well as Deputy Regional Director for South Asia. Sally holds a BA in European Studies & Modern Languages from University of Manchester.

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