WHAT INFLUENCES FAMILY PLANNING IN RURAL PAKISTAN: FRANCHISED SERVICE PROVIDER AND COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKER PERSPECTIVE
Background: Pakistan has a low modern contraceptive prevalence rate, 26%, leading family planning (FP) programmes to explore partnerships with local private providers to improve access to quality FP services. This study aims to understand the socio-cultural and organizational factors that influence delivery of quality family planning services.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted with private service providers and community health workers (CHW) in Marie Stopes Society's (MSS) social franchise network. A total of 31 providers and 28 CHWs from Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan were purposively selected for in-depth interviews. The study used thematic content analysis to understand providers' and health workers' perspectives of family planning service provision.
Results: This study found that normative environment, propagation of myths and misconceptions, and health concerns remain major barriers to service provision in rural communities. Findings showed that CHWs were instrumental in increasing awareness and positive attitudes towards family planning in the catchment areas. Moreover, social franchising was effective in increasing access to high-quality, subsidised family planning services amongst economically marginalised and low-awareness communities. Providers and health workers expressed satisfaction with the franchising approach, and revealed that being part of this network substantially increased their client volume and ability to serve poorer segments of the population.
Conclusion: The study found that franchising private service providers in rural areas enhances their ability to serve clients, and when coupled with demand-generation elements, such as vouchers and community health workers, it substantially increases their client volume. Albeit effective, the franchising approach currently lacks the element of long-term service provision at the current scale, and may require further strategizing by the franchisor. Moreover, alternate strategies should be explored to ensure continued provision of FP services without vouchers and CHWs.
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