Why is Contraceptive Security a Priority for Family Planning?
A successful family planning program guarantees access to a variety of high quality contraceptives so that clients can access their preferred methods when they need them. Efficient and effective supply chain management ensures commodities are procured, distributed, and monitored to allow an uninterrupted supply of contraceptives.
Contraceptive security: Every person is able to choose, obtain, and use quality contraceptives and other essential reproductive health products whenever they need them.
Forecasting: Estimating the quantity of a commodity that clients will consume
Procurement: The acquisition of contraceptive supplies from an external source
Stockout: A situation in which there is zero quantity of a particular commodity on a facility’s shelf on a day that the facility is open
Supply Chain Management: The design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities to create value, build a competitive infrastructure, leverage worldwide logistics, match supply with demand, and measure performance
For many family planning clients in low- and middle-income countries, particularly those in remote areas, traveling to the nearest health clinic for contraceptive services is a long, inconvenient, expensive, and even risky journey. To arrive at the clinic only to find her preferred contraceptive method is out of stock can have devastating consequences for a woman.
“No product, no program!” was a saying made popular by the USAID-funded DELIVER PROJECT. Systems thinking is essential so that all actors in the health system—health workers, delivery drivers, information management specialists—have the resources and tools they need to ensure that reproductive health commodities are available when clients need them. These tools include forecasting, procurement, distribution, and other decision support resources. Over the past decade, advocacy and donor investments have lead to major advancements in contractive security. Countries are seeing the fruit from these investments and initiatives.
Looking ahead, the importance of public-private partnerships will continue to play an important role, allowing the health sector to capitalize on successful business models and leverage the resources of logistics companies such as FEDEX and DHL. Advancements in technology, especially mHealth, and the opportunities for enhanced data collection and use will facilitate faster, more accurate information to support all levels of the supply chain system. And with a growing number of trained supply chain managers, the capacity to do more and do it better, especially integrating commodity procurement to break down health sector silos, will allow improved health services at all levels of the health system. This may include integrating HIV and family planning commodity procurement and delivery.
Contraceptive security depends on many stakeholders and systems. Harnessing generation, capture, synthesis, and sharing of the growing supply chain knowledge base will further enhance and grow successful reproductive health commodity programs and service delivery. Robust knowledge management can ensure collective sharing and use of information in a timely and responsive manner.