World Population Day—Strategies for Increased Access to Family Planning

 

On July 11, we celebrate World Population Day and reflect on the progress made toward the millennium development goals and the challenges to global health and well-being that remain. Over the past 15 years, considerable progress was made in poverty reduction, access to life-saving health care, and reduction in maternal and child mortality rates. However, that progress was uneven and there was less progress in some areas, such as maternal health, than hoped. Increasing access to family planning and contraception remains an essential strategy in improving maternal and child health and reducing extreme poverty.

As we look to the future and how best to increase access to family planning and contraception, several strategies will be essential: understanding who and where the underserved are and how best to reach them; developing collaborative approaches that leverage the strengths of all actors in a country; and building systems for rapidly collecting and analyzing information on supply and demand to improve access.

Understanding underserved populations and their needs is critical to developing effective strategies increasing access and use. John Snow, Inc. (JSI) under the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT conducted a family planning market analysis of unmet need among sexually active women (15-24) in Latin America and their contraceptive preferences. We then disseminated the information to individual countries and brought together a group of young leaders from eight LAC countries and trained them on the use of data for advocacy. Finally we helped them develop plans for disseminating and using their new skills and information once they got home.

Leveraging the strengths of all actors in a country to increase access to family planning services and contraception is essential if we are going to meet future health and development goals. JSI through the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT has promoted a total market engagement approach around the world. This has included total market analyses and market planning workshops, including public and private stakeholders in Latin America and Africa, developing national contraceptive security coordinating committees around the world, and using market data for IMS Health for market planning across a number of market segments.

Finally, access to information on supply and demand will be critical to understanding market needs and improving access. JSI has developed electronic logistics management information systems in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Pakistan to capture, transmit, and analyze data on supply and demand so local stakeholders are able to plan for and maintain a constant flow of contraceptives to health facilities and communities. Using rapid survey techniques via mobile devices in countries without eLMIS, JSI has helped its partners monitor supply and demand and respond to imbalances in a timely way.

As the global community sets new health and development goals for 2030, achieving them will require a focus on under-served populations, engaging a broad array of stakeholders nationally and internationally, and having visibility into program performance for planning and monitoring.