Exploration is needed in strengthening the government family planning programme through Social Franchising and Social Marketing of Contraceptives for larger visible impact on population stabilization efforts.
A national consultation recommended that the building consensus for private sector engagement in family planning through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) can be utilized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and NITI Aayog to develop and roll out a comprehensive PPP framework in the country.
The workshop focused on the current status and good practices related to private sector engagement in family planning based on key findings of the studies conducted by Population Foundation of India (PFI) and Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT).
The inaugural session included participation by policymakers and government officials including Sudhansh Pant, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Alok Kumar, Adviser, NITI Aayog, as well as development partners, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Social Marketing Organisation (SMO) partners’ and the private sector.
While addressing the workshop, Alok Kumar, Adviser to NITI Aayog, said, “We need to improve the indicators of family planning, health and nutrition in Aspirational districts to match the national average and to be able to achieve the SDGs. We need at least 90% coverage of the key interventions in addition to ensuring quality of services to achieve health and nutrition goals.”
Speaking at the workshop, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India said, “India is a young country with nearly 232 million in this age group. This large demographic of young people presents the country with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate economic development and reduce poverty.”
“As high as 24 million young Indian women between the ages of 15-24 do not want to get pregnant but are not using contraceptives for many reasons including lack of access to services. Private sector engagement in family planning is therefore critical to supplement and complement the government services.The landscape assessment commissioned by us, reveals key challenges and solutions for strengthening their engagement in family planning.”
She further says, “The study synthesizes learnings and highlights the need to develop and roll out a comprehensive public private partnership framework for family planning services in the country.”
Sharad Agarwal, CEO, HLFPPT said, “We believe that Social Franchise and Social Marketing have many successful models, learning’s and above all opportunities which are untapped that can bring commercial feasibility and techniques to the family planning sphere to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Through this forum we envisage and propose the formation of a steering group which can have representation from all stakeholders and help us to take forward an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders highlighting the scope, trends, and opportunities for private sector participation in family planning in India.”
Some of the key recommendations that emerged from the workshop are:
Longer term engagements with private partners
As India’s family planning goals are longterm, the FP programmes need longer term partnerships. Longer term contracts – at least for five years and preferably for 8 to 10 years – could be considered.
Independent monitors for oversight, support and management of the PPP arrangement
The government body may consider independent consultants or monitors to reduce the risk of both the private and public partners and give them a neutral, but well qualified and experienced, agency for oversight, support and management of the project, including verification of claims and processing the payment.
Consider flexibility in fixing reimbursement rates
The government may consider reviewing its “one service, one rate” system and adopt an assessment of cost of services. This may be better resolved with competitive bidding process.
Inclusion of newer categories into social marketing and expanding scope for brand extensions
While SM Division considers expanding choice of contraceptives for SMOs, it may also consider extensions, and not just for condoms, but also for other contraceptive products and non contraceptive, reproductive health products.
India: Pioneering in population stabilisation
India was the first country in the world to adopt a structured approach to population stabilization and make it a public health priority. According to a study commissioned by PFI, entitled ‘Cost of Inaction in Family Planning in India: An Analysis of Health and Economic Implications”, prioritizing family planning programmes until 2031 would save as much as Rs. 27,000 crores in public health spending which can be redirected to other health priorities and enable citizens to save Rs. 77,600 crores in out-of-pocket expenditures (OOPE) on childbirth and hospitalisation.
The projected demographic and health gains of the policy scenario include prevention of 2.9 million infant deaths, 1.2 million maternal deaths, 206 million unsafe abortions and 69 million additional births at the national level. It highlights the benefits of strengthening family planning strategies at the community, state and national level.