Most development experts agree that family planning is an investment that pays generous dividends in health and beyond. But can countries sustainably finance family planning?
SHOPS Plus led a dialogue on this topic at 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 its partner organizations.
The five-day event drew 150 attendees, including public and private stakeholders from 13 Family Planning 2020 priority countries. Participants shared country experiences and tools to inform financing options and reduce reliance on donor assistance.
SHOPS Plus facilitated two sessions on a day of the workshop dedicated specifically to engagement of the private sector.
Engaging the private sector
Jeanna Holtz, health financing director of SHOPS Plus presented an overview of the private sector landscape. View the presentation.
Dr. Karamoko Nimaga, president of the Private Sector Alliance for Health Promotion in Mali discussed his experience as a private practitioner. He stressed the importance of public-private partnerships to finance essential health services, including family planning. (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.
Three ways to enhance sustainability of family planning initiatives
Joseph Addo-Yobo, SHOPS Plus pharmacy and drug shop advisor, led an expert panel discussion 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.
Use technology to promote efficiency: 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.
Forge public-private partnerships: On the subject of partnerships, Bernard Nutua Kituku, head of global healthcare programs for Bayer Pharmaceutical – Middle Africa for the multinational company, put forth that public-private partnerships are viewed as business opportunities by private enterprises.
Tap corporate sponsors: Fidèle Mbadu Muanda, director of the National Program of Reproductive Health in the DRC Ministry of Health, highlighted the 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.