ICFP: Ensuring Access and Accountability for Family Planning through Universal Health Coverage

19th February 2016

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services figure prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is not surprising that The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) maintained important focus on these topics, including through the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) auxiliary event, “Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?” on January 27. Co-sponsored by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the event featured an illustrious group of panelists giving their perspectives on UHC, while exploring the intersection of health financing policy and accountability as countries move into universal access for family planning.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH, moderated the conversation and perhaps stated it best: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that getting family planning into national policies is critical.” 

Panelists—representatives of the ministries of health of Uganda and Nigeria, international agencies and initiatives, and implementing partners—commented on progress thus far towards UHC, and specifically, incorporation of SRH services, medicines, commodities, and supplies into UHC plans and strategies, as well as the challenges faced to date. It was interesting to hear the same common requirements for success–leadership and commitment, funding UHC, and data—mentioned by all panelists, regardless of their role in UHC implementation.

Leadership and commitment

National governments have an obvious role in leading implementation of UHC efforts, but their role as leaders also extends to ensuring that accountability frameworks are built into UHC implementation strategies. Likewise, international agencies and global initiatives must provide leadership in the global community on accountability for UHC both in terms of providing guidance as to what that means at various levels, and especially in terms of practical approaches to ensuring accountability. Finally, implementing partners have a role to play in leading civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to SRH services.

Ensuring universal access to family planning and reproductive health services and supplies requires the commitment of all stakeholders. They must ensure that RH services and supplies are part of the benefit health plans included in UHC mechanisms such as national health insurance and monitoring and accountability strategies are an integral part of UHC implementation. Governments must commit both to being accountable and to holding others accountable for the established goals of the UHC efforts.  Similarly, international agencies and global initiatives must commit to the same.  Finally, civil society organizations also must commit to ensuring that their constituents understand their rights and who is accountable for what in their settings.

The UHC steering team at the RHSC helps advance members’ knowledge about the implications and considerations of UHC for access to RH supplies and the role that supply chains have in achieving UHC in the post-2015 era. 


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