Section 5: Tips from the Experts

Key informants shared important advice and experiences. Their insights support the assumption-building process and provide method-specific examples. 

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  • Remember that there are always nuances to the data available per the method you are forecasting. For EC, we used demographic data (in Liberia, Rwanda and Benin) because there was a question of quality of services and consumption data. We also looked at statistics on violence against women when forecasting for EC, assuming that there is a sexual component of violence. For IUDs and implants, there can be issues of infections due to high humidity and therefore client acceptance. For implants, there was also an issue of provider training on removal. – JSI, Liberia/Rwanda/Benin
  • Variability in forecasted demand versus actual demand can be caused by funding challenges, overly ambitions projections, and changes in program mandates. Also, delays in the implementation of training programs assumed by service providers and the re-assignment of skilled staff to other duties led to missed consumption targets. – JSI, Ghana
  • For the Sino-implant (II), a new contraceptive, it took a lot longer than expected to register the product in many countries. This delay had implications on the accuracy of our 5-year projection. – FHI 360, Global
  • You can use the previous generation of a product to give some indication of demand for the next generation. The projections for Sino-implant (II) in Indonesia were based on the large number of Norplant users. – Population Council, Global
  • The availability of skilled providers should be taken into account. If you do not have skilled IUD providers, you don’t get uptake when the product is introduced. While this is the same for implants, providers can be trained much more quickly to insert implants. – Population Council, Global
  • Beware of overly optimistic target setting at least as a basis for procurement decisions. Your forecast should be based on what women will reasonably use and not what policy-makers want them to use or think they SHOULD use. Just because a family planning method is safe, effective, easy to use that does not mean women will choose to use it. Establish various scenarios for a forecast in order to put boundaries on what the forecast will be–for example an optimistic, realistic and pessimistic scenario. – JSI, Global
  • Even with trained providers, motivated clients, and a supply of CycleBeads in the central warehouse, the fact that CycleBeads were not integrated into the MIS meant that consumption was not being tracked. The logistics staff at the regional and health center level did not have an easy way to order CycleBeads, unlike methods already included on the supply requisition form. – IRH, Global
  • Over-ordering EC causes problems, as with many other products, because there is an expiration date. This can also have large policy implications and reflect poorly on the MOH that approved the order. – ICEC, Global
  • With EC, there is a keen wish for privacy and anonymity—it is much more private to go to the pharmacy. There is also a speed issue—women like being able to get EC over the counter at a pharmacy rather than relying on public sector clinic hours from 9-11. Consider women’s preferences in forecasting, such as what are the easy access points? – ICEC, Kenya example
  • When you’re forecasting for a NUM, you don’t have to set an ultimate target if you can establish a good relationship with a supplier. Once you have that relationship, you can re-order supply if needed. Think about negotiating payment terms, such as paying up front rather than paying after 30 days, if that moves the product faster.  – DKT International, Ethiopia (social marketing perspective)
  • Implants have been around in Kenya for a long time, but they are underutilized. The quantification this year is based on consumption trend data, which generally increases year over year, and program inputs (awareness raising, etc.). We added 2-3% to the forecast to account for increase in demand. Uptake for this method is very slow, so we know not to over exaggerate. – Division of Reproductive Health, MOH, Kenya
  • With CycleBeads, it has been very normal for early uptake to be rather minimal because this method is very different from what people are used to. Demand increases over time as more people in the community have experiences with it and adopt it and as providers get used to offering it. So what initially may seem like an over-supply may actually be a good quantity. However, while CycleBeads do not have an expiration date, consider that storage costs do have to be accounted for. – IRH, Global