Meeting demand: access and equity in reproductive health

With 1.8 million young people entering reproductive age, PATH experts say the need for family planning resources will only increase.
Health worker showing an unwrapped male condom.
Around the world, there is increasing demand for family planning products and services. Here, health workers are demonstrating proper condom use. Photo: PATH/Felix Masi.

Jane Hutchings, Seema Kapoor, and Christopher Brady of PATH share how PATH’s work helps family planning resources reach the most vulnerable populations. Following is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared on the NextBillion health care blog.

For decades, governments in low- and lower middle–income countries have been, often with significant development assistance, the primary provider of health care services, including family planning. What happens when public-sector and donor resources cannot meet demand?

Against a backdrop of 1.8 billion young people entering reproductive age—the largest cohort in the history of the world—many governments across the globe are committing to expanding access to contraceptives and family planning services. Yet, public health systems alone cannot keep pace with the growing demand. Beyond the public sector lies the private sector, which consists of nongovernmental organizations, a range of social marketing organizations providing subsidized products and services, and the largely untapped potential of the commercial sector. Using the total market—strategically working across all sectors—is one way to effectively deploy resources to meet family planning needs. . . .

What do we mean when we say total market?

A total market approach (TMA) is a strategy for preserving public-sector resources for those most in need and most vulnerable by ensuring that people who have the ability to pay do so for a portion or all of their family planning products and services. Because what happens in one sector affects another, a TMA also implies ongoing coordination across sectors, as well as an environment in which all sectors can flourish. Each market sector (public and private) has comparative advantages in reaching different market segments or different types of family planning usersThe goal of a TMA is to empower all sectors to more efficiently reach specific market segments, thereby meeting the increasing demand for family planning products and services. . . .

Read the unabridged article “Access and Equity in Reproductive Health” on the NextBillion blog.

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  • Portrait of a smiling Jane Hutchings.
    Jane Hutchings was formerly the director of the Reproductive Health Program at PATH.