Health advocates have a long history of increasing access to lifesaving products, especially for women and children, by affecting policy change. But what happens when, once adopted, the national policy doesn’t translate into increased product access throughout the country? Policy change alone is not always sufficient to achieve improved access to health products. However, advocates have an important tool at their disposal to complement policy change: market advocacy.
The patch's microneedles penetrate the skin only slightly, causing less discomfort than traditional syringes. Photo: Georgia Institute of Technology.
The use of microneedle patches as a drug delivery platform has received a lot of media buzz of late. The concept of microneedles is actually several decades old. It has taken relatively recent advancements of microfabrication technology and manufacturing techniques to move the concept to reality. Today, this cutting-edge technology is being evaluated—and in some cases already being used—for diagnostic purposes and to deliver drugs, vaccines, and biotherapeutics. Indeed, the use of microneedle patches to deliver vaccines could be a major breakthrough impacting global health.
Begin with the end in mind. A phrase that is frequently used, it can mean different things in different contexts. In the field of contraceptive research and development, we often use the phrase to highlight the importance of keeping the needs and perspectives of potential end users front-and-center as we design, test, and evaluate new products. This means incorporating acceptability research into all phases of product development—as we brainstorm ideal methods to fill gaps in the method mix; shape and refine Target Product Profiles for new methods under development; conduct pre-clinical and clinical research; and develop strategies for product introduction.
AIDS Foundation of Chicago/National Female Condom Coalition | Program Manager
Advocates hope to see a range of female condoms available in the United States and abroad. Photo: PATH/Danny Ngan
One small rule change being considered by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) could make a big difference in the pregnancy and HIV prevention worlds—and could expand female condom options available to women, men, and young people.
The female condom is a valuable prevention tool that should be offered as part of a wide method mix. It is the only option available today that protects from both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and is designed for women and receptive partners to initiate.
FHI 360 | Distinguished Scientist and Director, Contraceptive Technology Innovation
FHI 360's study of user family planning preferences. Photo credit: Reinout Van Den Bergh Photography
Why do women who do not want to get pregnant choose not to use modern family planning methods? While this question is not bounded by geographies, the most recent Guttmacher Institute report, which focused on the low- and middle-income countries, is most illuminating. The two most common answers given by married women were health reasons/side effects or fear of side effects (26%) and claims of infrequent sex or not being sexually active (24%). Among unmarried women, infrequent sex (49%) was the top reason.
Equally informative are recent FHI 360 findings from a user preference study in Uganda and Burkina Faso showing that 75% of women currently using a method would be open to trying new technologies. It quickly becomes clear that existing methods do not satisfactorily address the changing needs of women throughout their 30- to 40-year reproductive journey.
Not to be forgotten, male contraceptive methods remain limited, even though acceptability research indicates that a substantial number of men would use family planning options themselves, if available.
IntraHealth International | Senior Manager, Communications and Knowledge Management
Stephanie Coly, a midwife and tutor trained in the Tutorat approach at Sor Health Post and Ms. Fatime Fall Ba, district reproductive health coordinator. Photo by Hawa Talla for IntraHealth International.
This post originally appeared on IntraHealth's blog, VITAL.
Tutorat—the French word for “tutoring.” Even the name of this training approach shirks the limelight. But it’s hard to argue with results, which are exactly what Tutorat has been delivering for health care in Senegal.
When I sat down with one of the pioneers of this approach, Dr. Boniface Sebikali, IntraHealth International’s senior clinical advisor, it became clear that Tutorat is something special. It’s quietly revolutionizing health care in Senegal and making higher quality services available to more communities than ever.
People often tell me I am very ambitious. I’ll admit it. It is true.
Since I was nine years old, I have been telling my father that I will be the first woman president of my country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is vast — almost the size of an entire continent. And if I were president, I would be able to change so many things for youth, with just my signature.
Mothers wait to see health workers to weigh and vaccinate their children in a clinic in Accra, Ghana. (Kate Holt/MCSP)
Over the past quarter-century, the number of children dying each year has more than halved. Yet in 2016, an estimated 5.6 million children still died before reaching their fifth birthday. Most of these deaths occur from conditions such as pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea, and malnutrition, all of which are readily preventable or treatable with cost-effective interventions. This global burden of child deaths is not distributed equally: Higher rates of under-five deaths reflect longstanding underlying causes of disadvantage and persistent inequities in certain regions of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for more than 80%, while Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest under-five death rate (79 per 1,000 live births on average in 2016). This means that 1 in 13 children die before their 5th birthday in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 1 in 189 children in high-income countries.