Pakistan Becomes The Challenge Initiative’s Newest Hub with Greenstar Social Marketing Leading the Effort

by | Dec 21, 2021

Pakistan’s Greenstar Social Marketing has joined forces with The Challenge Initiative (TCI) to improve access to modern contraception by supporting local governments in urban poor communities across the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory. 

Led globally by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health (based at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) for the past five years, TCI is a $170-million global platform that supports local governments in urban areas to scale up high-impact family planning interventions that have been proven successful. By working through existing government and community systems and institutionalizing these practices, TCI promotes self-reliance and sustainability, while achieving impact in a cost-efficient manner.

Greenstar joins TCI’s five other hub partners in East Africa (Jhpiego), Francophone West Africa (IntraHealth International), India (Population Services International-India), Nigeria (Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs) and the Philippines (Zuellig Family Foundation).

“Greenstar Social Marketing welcomes The Challenge Initiative to Pakistan. It will be an impactful opportunity for the people in the country with a focus on the urban population to receive access to quality family planning products through the public health system and stronger public-private partnerships strengthened through technical assistance from TCI,” said Dr. S.A. Rab, CEO of Greenstar Social Marketing. “Greenstar will be the accelerator hub of TCI Pakistan to support the local government to improve access to family planning products and services through proven high-impact interventions.”

A recent Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) shows that progress made in the last decade to increase the country’s modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) in the world’s fifth most populous country is now on the decline. TCI will partner with Greenstar to support select cities in implementing high-impact interventions through a combination of technical assistance “coaching,” access to TCI University (TCI-U) and TCI’s “Challenge Fund.”

“We are delighted to welcome Greenstar to the TCI family and look forward to supporting Pakistani city governments as they implement TCI’s interventions and improve the overall health and well-being of their urban residents,” said TCI’s Executive Director & Principal Investigator Kojo Lokko.

Lokko explained that under TCI’s innovative “business unusual” approach, Greenstar will not be implementing family planning programs. Instead Greenstar will coach city government health officials on how to select the most impactful interventions from TCI-U and then implement them successfully, so the effort will sustained beyond the period of TCI support.

“Under TCI, cities self-select to be part of our team, demonstrate their commitment by bringing their own resources to the table and then lead implementation,” Lokko said. “In return, these city governments may access our Challenge Fund and coaching to support the implementation of interventions we have packaged into easy-to-use toolkits on TCI-U.”

Dr. Maheen Malik, TCI’s Deputy Director, noted that Greenstar will be developing its own Pakistan-specific toolkit by adapting TCI’s core package of key interventions that address family planning service delivery, demand generation and advocacy issues. These interventions are based on globally accepted high-impact practices (HIPs) selected by the HIP Partnership of FP2030, IPPF, UNFPA, USAID and WHO.

“As part of our TCI team, Greenstar will support and coach its city government counterparts to strengthen their capacity in implementing these interventions, which will also strengthen the local health system,” Malik said. “But more importantly, Greenstar will strengthen capacity in TCI ‘Essentials,’ or skills – such as leadership and program design, management and coordination – that all successful program implementers must know.”

Since launching in 2016, TCI has engaged more than 100 local governments in urban areas across 11 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. TCI is supported primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Bayer AG. Other donors include U.K.-based Comic Relief, the U.S. Agency for International Development and private philanthropists. TCI’S goal is to support the greater self-reliance of local governments to scale up family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health high-impact interventions, leading to sustained improvements in urban health systems and increased use of modern contraception, especially among the urban poor.