Most development experts agree that family planning is an investment that pays generous dividends in health and beyond. But how can countries sustainably finance it?
SHOPS Plus led two discussions on this topic at an important workshop in Accra in mid-January 2018. Representatives from more than a dozen government health and finance departments in sub-Saharan Africa attended, as well as USAID and five of its projects.
The five-day event drew 150 attendees, including public and private stakeholders from 13 Family Planning 2020 priority countries. USAID hosted the meeting, which was supported by the HFG, HP+, PACE, SHOPS Plus, and SIFPO2 projects. Participants shared country experiences and tools to inform financing options and reduce reliance on donor assistance.
SHOPS Plus facilitated two sessions, one on engaging the private sector and the other on lessons from the field.
Engaging the private sector
Jeanna Holtz, health financing director of SHOPS Plus, set the stage for the fourth day of the workshop, which focused on engaging the private sector. She presented an overview of the private sector landscape, the total market approach, and the role of social franchises to promote quality and affordable family planning services. View the presentation.
Dr. Karamoko Nimaga, president of the Private Sector Alliance for Health Promotion in Mali, gave examples of engaging the private sector to provide family planning based on his experience as a private practitioner. He stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to finance maternal and child health. (In Mali, more than 50 percent of health services are delivered by private providers.)
Holtz shared a new SHOPS Plus publication she co-authored, Integrating Family Planning into Universal Health Coverage Efforts. The brief describes several health financing approaches and what they mean for family planning. In the brief, she argues that progress toward universal health coverage can be accelerated, along with satisfying unmet need for family planning.
Lessons from the field
Joseph Addo-Yobo, chief of party of SHOPS Ghana, led an expert panel discussion supported by SHOPS Plus on lessons from the field in ensuring financing for and access to quality private sector family planning services. Representatives from Vodaphone, Bayer Pharmaceutical, and the DRC Ministry of Health shared key insights. View the presentation.
Healthline 255: Dr. Byrite Asamoah, clinical director of Vodafone's Healthline Medical Call Center, argued that effectively leveraging mobile voice and data technology provides the greatest hope to mitigate many of Africa’s health challenges and that it can significantly increase family planning uptake. He presented the Healthline 255 program, a call center in Ghana staffed by nurses and doctors. The program provides a convenient, confidential, and inexpensive way to obtain information on health issues, including family planning. Out of 2,000 mobile phone clients who were contacted, 17 percent had called the center about family planning. This shows the importance of access to accurate information about contraceptive methods. Interestingly, 25 percent of callers on all health issues were male.
Bayer Pharmaceutical: On the subject of partnerships, Bernard Nutua Kituku, head of global healthcare programs – Middle Africa for the multinational company, put forth that public-private partnerships are viewed as business opportunities by private enterprises.
DRC Ministry of Health: Fidèle Mbadu Muanda, director of the National Program of Reproductive Health in the DRC Ministry of Health, highlighted the untapped potential of corporate sponsors to contribute funding for family planning. In the DRC, a permanent multi-sectoral technical committee is working to mobilize increased funding from mining and other private companies.
Throughout the week, country teams identified specific steps they could take to ensure sustainable family planning financing that would complement national strategic plans. At the close of the meeting, they shared their plans and took feedback from others.