In over 30 countries throughout the world PSI empowers women and couples to lead healthier lives by providing access to innovative family planning and maternal health products and services. Every year, there are more than 70 million unintended pregnancies and more than 340,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes.
In 2009 alone, PSI prevented an estimated 3.5 million unintended pregnancies and over 17,000 maternal deaths, and enabled millions of couples to plan their families.
Over the past three decades, PSI has expanded the contraceptive methods in its portfolio from male condoms and oral contraceptives to include injectable contraceptives, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUD), emergency contraception pills, implants, female condoms, voluntary sterilization, and fertility awareness methods such as the Standard Days Method using Cyclebeads®. PSI’s RH platform has also grown to address maternal mortality through the prevention of post-partum hemorrhage and sepsis, and the prevention of unsafe abortion.
PSI employs innovative approaches to overcome significant consumer and provider-driven barriers to contraceptive use, and adapts its programs to the socio-cultural and economic environment of the target population.
The Reproductive Health Department’s mission is to maximize PSI’s impact on increasing contraceptive prevalence rates and decreasing maternal mortality ratios, in line with international standards and national priorities.
- Meeting Unmet Need for Family Planning
More than 200 million women in the developing world have an unmet need for family planning, yet do not have access to modern contraceptives. Providing access to family planning prevents unintended, often high-risk pregnancies - those that come too early, too often or too late in life – and reduces the number of abortions, saving women's lives.
Benefits of family planning extend beyond a woman’s improved health. Spaced births and fewer pregnancies improve child survival. Women also have greater access to education and employment opportunities when they control their fertility, which can enhance their own and their families’ economic status.
By expanding access, ensuring affordability, and overcoming barriers, PSI is empowering women and couples to choose when and how many children they will have in their lifetime. Meeting this need is a critical part of improving the health and well being of women, families and communities.
PSI socially markets the following short-term contraceptives:
Long-Acting and Permanent Methods
PSI promotes long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) and permanent methods by training providers, assuring quality of care, and social marketing.
- Improving Maternal Health
Women worldwide continue to die from pregnancy-related causes at a rate of one woman per minute. The vast majority of these preventable deaths occur in developing countries where the lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 75, compared to 1 in 7,300 in industrialized countries. An estimated 342,000 worldwide maternal deaths occur annually, and an additional 10 million women suffer lifelong disabilities due to pregnancy-related causes.
PSI works to prevent maternal injury and death by ensuring that women and birth attendants have access to low-cost, low-tech interventions, such as misoprostol to reduce Post-Partum Hemorrhage (PPH) and approved medical abortion drugs to prevent unsafe abortion.
- Sustaining Access
PSI believes in ensuring sustained access to a comprehensive method mix and maternal health services and products, and linking quality products and services with informed demand among providers and consumers.
In many developing countries, a large portion of the population may not have access to family planning products and services due to lack of products, poor distribution systems, high prices, under-resourced public health systems and lack of trained, competent medical providers. To provide family planning products and services where they are most needed, PSI creates franchised networks of medical providers to offer clinical services. PSI also utilizes existing wholesale and retail distribution infrastructure to make products widely available, and expands the reach of products and services through outreach events, task-shifting to lower level providers where possible, and engaging community-based health workers.
PSI uses social marketing to provide affordable family planning products and services to low-income consumers. PSI programs often charge a reduced price or fee for products and services to ensure they are affordable. Willingness to pay research helps determine what price clients can afford while still contributing to the program’s sustainability. PSI products often serve as a middle-ground between free public sector products and commercial products that are unaffordable to segments of the population. To ensure that retailers or service providers earn a margin on sales (sufficient to motivate their offering a range of contraceptive products) price discounts or pay-for-performance strategies are utilized.
Addressing Social Barriers through Comprehensive Communication
PSI utilizes a broad mix of communication activities to increase demand among potential family planning clients and providers. On the client (consumer) side, these include distributing educational materials about the benefits of methods and dispelling myths and misconceptions. Communication channels range from interpersonal communication agents and direct marketing events, to radio and TV campaigns. PSI also targets providers as an audience, with the objective of motivating them to offer a broad method mix, including long-term methods that require additional training, time and equipment. PSI uses medical detailers to reach pharmacists and providers and convenes workshops and trainings to educate providers on technical issues.
Improving Service Delivery
In many countries where PSI works, gaps in provider skills in the private, public, and NGO sectors affect the overall quality of care available. PSI works with health service providers through formal, competency-based training programs, and rigorous quality assurance to ensure their ability to provide high-quality family planning services. Clinical support teams support network providers with on-the-job support and coaching. Independent quality assurance audits validate that network providers and facilities adhere to service delivery standards and that monitoring and supervision protocols are followed.
- Social Marketing to Improve Reproductive Health
PSI and other global health agencies use social marketing and social franchising to increase use of modern contraceptives, promote safe motherhood interventions, and reduce unsafe abortions. The effectiveness of social marketing and franchising interventions in improving reproductive health is documented in our Social Marketing Evidence Base. The Social Marketing Evidence Base compiles systematically reviewed evaluations of social marketing and social franchising interventions by PSI and other organizations in the countries and health areas where PSI operates.
Learn more about the Social Marketing Evidence Base for Reproductive Health