Glob Health Sci Pract. 2017 Sep 28;5(3):446-455. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-17-00065.

Increasing contraceptive access for hard-to-reach populations with vouchers and social franchising in Uganda

Bellows B, Mackay A, Dingle A, Tuyiragize R, Nnyombi W and Dasgupta A.

Abstract

From 2001 to 2011, modern contraceptive prevalence in Uganda increased from 18% to 26%. However, modern method use, in particular use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) and permanent methods (PMs), remained low. In the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, only 1 of 5 married women used a LARC or PM even though 34% indicated an unmet need for contraception. Between 2011 and 2014, a social franchise and family planning voucher program, supporting 400 private facilities to provide family planning counseling and broaden contraceptive choice by adding LARCs and PMs to the service mix, offered a voucher to enable poor women to access family planning services at franchised facilities. This study analyzes service trends and voucher client demographics and estimates the contribution of the program to increasing contraceptive prevalence in Uganda, using the Impact 2 model developed by Marie Stopes International. Between March 2011 and December 2014, 330,826 women received a family planning service using the voucher, of which 70% of voucher clients chose an implant and 25% chose an intrauterine device. The median age of voucher users was 28 years; 79% had no education or only a primary education; and 48% reported they were unemployed or a housewife. We estimated that by 2014, 280,000 of the approximately 8,600,000 women of reproductive age in Uganda were using a contraceptive method provided by the program and that 120,000 of the clients were "additional users" of contraception, contributing 1.4 percentage points to the national modern contraceptive prevalence rate. The combination of family planning vouchers and a franchise-based quality improvement initiative can leverage existing private health infrastructure to substantially expand family planning access and choice for disadvantaged populations and potentially improve contraceptive prevalence when scaled nationally.

Comment: Especially in hard to reach areas the number of users of safe and effective contraception is usually lower than elsewhere. This elegant paper shows how a social franchise set up, with incentives, combined with a voucher system, can significantly increase the usage (HMV)