Designated day family planning service provision is a high-impact intervention used by local governments supported by The Challenge Initiative (TCI) to increase access and uptake of family planning services by complementing routine service provision at health facilities. A new peer-reviewed journal article published Feb. 13, 2023, in Global Health: Science and Practice explores the sustainability of “Family Planning Special Days (FPSDs)” in Francophone West Africa (FWA), where TCI coaches local governments in how to provide free family planning services on designated days.
The article describes how municipalities and the health system collaborated to implement FPSDs, the effectiveness in reaching women with family planning services, associated costs, lessons learned, and recommendations to sustain and scale FPSDs. Its findings contribute to the evidence supporting local ownership and commitment as a critical component for scaling for impact.
In FWA, contraceptive uptake remains limited, often due to geographic, economic and social barriers. Furthermore, many people in urban areas still lack access to family planning services, despite their proximity to healthcare facilities. With TCI’s support, municipalities and health systems collaborated in 10 FWA cities to implement FPSDs by organizing free family planning services on a monthly or quarterly basis over two to five consecutive days at health facilities or sites close to the intended population.
The authors conducted a descriptive analysis using several techniques and data sources, including a document review of activity reports, analysis of data from the health management information system, and retrospective data collection on the profile of FPSD users and implementation costs. FPSDs reached new contraceptive users, particularly adolescents and youth, through a combination of free services, proximity, convenience, and awareness raising.
According to the article, FPSDs enabled 71,669 women of reproductive age to access modern contraceptive methods in urban areas of FWA, with an annual client volume of 34,061. Of the total client volume during FPSDs, a majority (78%) of users adopted long-term methods while 22% adopted short-acting methods.
Municipalities paid for 35% of the total cost of FPSDs held during the study period (between July 2020 and June 2021). The authors concluded that with appropriate financial support from municipalities, the health system can continue to offer high-quality free family planning services. Sustaining FPSDs will also depend on contraceptive product availability and continued financing of FPSDs during system shocks such as the COVID pandemic.