There are now more than 300 million women and girls using modern contraception in the world’s 69 poorest countries, with more than 30 million of those users added since 2012. That’s the good news. The more challenging news is that despite this progress, health markets in low- and middle-income countries often operate inefficiently, failing millions of potential family planning (FP) consumers.
Pathfinder International | Technical Advisor for Capacity Building
Younger women having their first or second child may not recognize access to health services as a right and as something that could improve their lives. Photo: Pathfinder.
Evidence-based interventions. High-impact practices. Using data for decision-making.
As program implementers, we (rightly) spend a lot of time focusing on these concepts. But, sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to implement development strategies and interventions “correctly” that we lose sight of the perspectives of the people that our projects are intended to support—local partners, service clients, and community members. Evidence across sectors shows that the people best able to solve problems are often those closest to the situation itself. Thus, effectively removing barriers to sexual and reproductive health services use means taking a step back from our checklists and our data and actually talking to community members to understand what is getting in their way.
How do we raise strong women? How do we support and nurture the transition from girl to woman? The answer is complex, but to me, part of it is ensuring that when it is appropriate, every girl is provided with the sexual and reproductive health services and information she needs, in a format that speaks to her.
Markets are made up of human beings. They are not just emotionless spaces where products and services are bought and sold. This is especially true of the market for family planning products, which ideally provides “...women with a range of options, enabling them to choose for themselves how to best fulfill their individual reproductive intentions” (see Market Shaping for Family Planning, p4). And yet, when mired in theoretical discussions of total market approaches, market dynamics and supply chains, it is all too easy to forget these people within the market. But to ensure a healthy market where a woman can choose the contraceptive method that works best for her, we first must understand what she wants and needs (think human-centered design).
USAID/Washington | Health Development Officer, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, Service Delivery Improvement Division
Total market approach (TMA): A lens for assessing actors and interventions in all three sectors (public, private non-profit, and private for-profit) of the health system. Programs and policies promote and enhance contributions from all sectors and are client-focused.
Management Sciences for Health, Nigeria | M&E and eHealth Advisor
The Global Digital Health Forum 2016 was a perfect fit for me. It was a space where I met many practitioners working in the global health environment, more so than in previous meetings. The Forum provided a supportive professional environment to discuss similar challenges and opportunities between people and organizations working in the area of technology for health.
A common theme throughout the 2016 Global Digital Health Forum (GDHF) was sustainability. From the opening panel, through almost every session and hallway conversation, to the closing plenary, sustainability was a major topic of discussion. And, it seemed that each conversation almost always led to the same conclusions:
In the digital health community, we know very little about successful approaches to program sustainability.
We do know that identifying such approaches will require disruptive thinking.
Members of the digital health community are ready to take on the challenge.
Over the past decade, the digital health field has sought to enhance opportunities to improve the delivery of, and access to, health services and information. At the third annual Global Digital Health Forum in Washington, D.C., programmers, researchers, tech providers, and investors convened for two days to share the latest innovations that are igniting the digital health arena in low- to middle-income countries. Presenters expanded on technologies ranging from a mobile app that offers reproductive health information to female refugees to highly sophisticated data dashboards that provide real-time feedback to community health workers. The vastness and endless potential of the field was an underpinning theme that excited and motivated participants and offered a glimpse into future horizons.
It’s my pleasure to announce the 12th Annual Photoshare Photo Contest! Photoshare’s annual contest recognizes the best in global health and development photography and rewards the talents and generosity of amateur and professional photographers who share photos for charitable and educational use.