Innovation in reproductive health has given women more control over family planning and more power over their lives. We are now seeing the benefits, including better health for women and children and improved economic conditions for families and communities.
Increased access to injectable contraceptives, for example, has given women a more convenient, discreet option for preventing or delaying pregnancy. The introduction of the female condom has enabled some women to prevent both pregnancy and HIV infection. Mobile phones have increased women’s access to health information and services.
Innovative partnerships are reaching more women with needed services. Through new total market approaches, the public and private sectors have joined forces to increase coverage of affordable family planning options. Community health insurance has leveraged resources to improve the public- and private-sector health systems in some countries.
Other innovations have improved service delivery. These include results-based financing, where health workers are paid based on verified results, and innovations that improve the quality of care, especially for poor women.
Additional innovation in health financing will be essential for further improvements. The Discovery Health insurance plan in South Africa is one example of how financing systems can contribute to health and well-being.
To build more support for advancing reproductive health, we need to focus on the links between family planning, employment, and economic development. Delaying pregnancy and spacing births enables more young women to complete school, prevents death and disability among many young women and their children, and contributes to economic development. Economic gains, in turn, provide more resources for improving health.
Innovation in reproductive health is a key to future health and prosperity for all. Expanding access through creative funding models will accelerate the gains we are already seeing.
Photo: PATH/Will Boase.