When Nora Quesada began her career working for a coal-mining project in northern Colombia, reproductive health was far from her mind. But it was there where she saw the impact community-based approaches could have on the lives of vulnerable populations. And it was there where she chose to dedicate her knowledge and skills to those who needed them most: the forgotten, the invisible, and the marginalized.
In 1988, Nora took on the challenge of leading PROFAMILIA Colombia’s regional training center for commodity security—long before the term “commodity security” was even widely used. Looking back over the last quarter century, Nora has witnessed the dramatic changes that have taken hold among health systems across Latin America.
In the late 90s, Nicaragua had stockout rates close to 90 percent. Today, it’s more like 2 percent.
In the late 90s, Nicaragua had stockout rates close to 90 percent. Today, it’s more like 2 percent. And thanks, in part, to Nora’s work, and that of many others, this holds true not just in the big cities, but in the remotest areas of the country.
Availability, however, is only one piece of the puzzle. Choice—and the ability to exercise it—is equally critical, especially in populations where limited financial means and weak facilities hinder access to the care people need. The absence of choice makes all the different between using what is available and what is right for the user. And in Nora’s decades of experience, this is what makes the difference between RH services that work and those that don’t.
The Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, Nora says, has improved both choice and health outcomes by engaging with suppliers from across Latin America and the world at large.
The ability of women and men to have a range of contraceptive and other RH options from which to choose. An individual’s need for contraception evolves throughout his or her life cycle and is a function of both psychosocial and physiological factors. The ability to access the “right” contraceptive method increases the likelihood that one’s RH needs will be met; a mismatch, research shows, is more likely to lead to dissatisfaction, lower continuation rates, and often method failure.
Who’s Holding up Our Pillars?
This story is part of “Who’s Holding up Our Pillars?”, a Coalition effort to invite our heroes working in supply chains to tell their stories. Read their stories and see who they contribute to our vital, everyday work.