MSH promotes a systems-strengthening approach to increase access to and appropriate use of essential reproductive health and family planning commodities. Our approach addresses pharmaceutical management taking into account the other five building blocks of health systems: governance, human resources, information systems, financing, and service delivery. This is done at all levels of the health system, including community-based distributors and private drug sellers.
Ensuring availability of quality commodities requires improving policies, enforcing compliance with policies, and strengthening the regulatory system. MSH works with national regulatory authorities to streamline registration processes, strengthen quality assurance, align national essential medicines lists with standard treatment guidelines, and establish transparent systems.
Scarcity of well-trained personnel to manage commodities and provide adequate services is a perennial problem. Providers at lower levels of the health system, including community health workers, provide the bulk of reproductive health and family planning services, but are often the providers who receive the least training. MSH develops state-of-the-art tools and job aids to assist providers in managing commodities and providing related services. MSH develops training programs and tools on commodity management for providers at all levels of the system.
Policy makers are often forced to make uninformed decisions about access to reproductive health and family planning commodities because the necessary information is simply unavailable. MSH works at all levels to improve the evidence base for decision and policy making.
Many reproductive health and family planning commodities are inexpensive compared with those needed for other major public health conditions, such as medicines for HIV/AIDS. However, country budgets are often insufficient to cover needs completely. While donors are able to cover some of the shortfall, stock outs are a common occurrence. As a result, out-of-pocket expenses increase and equity diminishes for the most vulnerable populations who struggle to access reproductive health and family planning services. MSH helps national programs develop mechanisms that reduce financial barriers, use existing resources, and generate additional financial resources.
Managing the supply chain is not enough to ensure that clients have access to a wide variety of family planning methods and can chose the commodity that best fits their needs. Providing reproductive health and family planning services requires provider training on counseling and referral and appropriate administration of medicines. MSH works to ensure that client counseling and pharmaceutical care is included in guidance on best practices.