New brief finds social marketing organization to be a critical contributor to health outcomes in Afghanistan

A new SHOPS Plus brief finds that the Afghan Social Marketing Organization (ASMO) plays a critical role in maternal and child health and family planning outcomes in Afghanistan⁠—demonstrating that social marketing programs complement the public sector in fragile states. 

For over a decade, ASMO has accompanied the Afghanistan government’s efforts to rebuild the country’s health systems by marketing affordably priced, high quality health products through USAID support. Yet, ASMO’s contribution to Afghanistan’s health outcomes has largely remained unknown. SHOPS Plus analyzed data from the 2015 Afghanistan Demographic Health Survey and used established modeling tools to more fully understand the organization’s contribution.

“The expectation was that ASMO’s contribution was small and niche—focused primarily on wealthier and urban users,” notes Ramakrishnan Ganesan, senior private sector advisor and Afghanistan regional manager for SHOPS Plus. “However, the data show ASMO to be a significant contributor, with their products being used by people in both urban and rural areas as well as across socioeconomic strata.” 

A figure which depicts the percent of condom and pill users using ASMO brands by residence and wealth status. It shows that more urban users use ASMO brands for condoms and oral contraceptive pills than rural users. It also shows that more individuals in the upper 3 wealth quintiles use ASMO brands than those in the lower 3 wealth quintiles.The research shows that ASMO contributes nearly one-quarter of Afghanistan’s modern contraceptive prevalence rate through sales of its socially marketed family planning products—Asodagi condoms, Khoshi combined oral contraceptive pills, and Khoshi injectable contraceptives. In fact, nearly one-half of oral contraceptive pills users and one-third of injectable contraceptive users rely on an ASMO brand. While a greater proportion of contraceptive users from the upper three wealth quintiles and those residing in urban areas use ASMO brands, a significant proportion of poorer users and those residing in rural areas also use the products. 

An infographic which shows ASMO's contribution to the use of maternal and child health products: ASMO contributes 16% to household water treatment use, 11% to ORS use, and 5% to iron-folic acid use.When it comes to maternal and child health, ASMO contributes 16 percent of total household water treatment use, 11 percent of ORS use, and 5 percent of iron-folic acid use through sales of its essential maternal and child health products—Shefa oral rehydration solution, Abpakon household water treatment solution, and Taqwia Khon iron-folic acid tablets.

ASMO’s contribution to maternal and child health and family planning demonstrates the complementary role that social marketing plays in fragile states. 

“In a fragile context where the public health system may not be operating efficiently throughout the country, it is even more important for there to be alternative sources of supply. Social marketing is one method to complement the public sector system. If ASMO is unable to continue its social marketing programs nearly a quarter of people who use contraceptives in Afghanistan will not be able to do so,” Ganesan explains. “This research speaks to why it is so important to continue social marketing, shows value of USAID’s investment, and demonstrates what a fantastic job ASMO has done in a very challenging context.” 

Read the full brief to learn more about ASMO’s contribution to health outcomes in Afghanistan.

Learn more about our work in Afghanistan and in research and evaluation.

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Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.