“Prevention is a question of income and education.”
- Solomon Betre, Pharmacist, Ethiopia
In many countries, people who can't afford contraceptives are supplied with them either free-of-charge or at heavily subsidized prices by government programs or international aid organizations. However, a middle class is growing in many developing countries for whom such offers are hardly appropriate. A woman who is capable of earning her own living want to rely on being able to buy her contraceptives at the pharmacy – whether she lives in Africa or an industrialized country.
Yet up to now, middle-income women, for whom the high-priced brand-name products are too expensive, have been largely dependent on donor-subsidized offers of assistance. In addition to putting up with long waiting times at the free distribution points, they have to accept being regarded as needy. And if they decide instead to buy cheap, heavily subsidized contraceptives from the pharmacy, any loss of donation-based funding can cause a shortage, so that the contraceptive pill is no longer available.
Reliable supply through a sustainable approach
Bayer and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have therefore created a new service for women in sub-Saharan Africa. Under the Contraceptive Security Initiative (CSI), Bayer markets its Microgynon Fe® contraceptive pill directly via pharmacies – at a price that is in line with the financial resources of middle-income women.
The costs of production and distribution are fully covered by the purchase price. This means that supply and availability are controlled solely by demand in the respective country and are independent of subsidies – gaps in supply are practically impossible, contraceptive security is assured.
Local wholesalers and pharmacists generate income on sales as part of the supply chain, which gives them a personal interest in having the product in stock. By earning money they are simultaneously helping their country's economic performance – a further contribution the program makes to sustainability.
The Contraceptive Security Initiative was first launched in Ethiopia in 2010 and has since been extended to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. The inclusion of other countries is planned until September 2016.
Microsite – Ethiopia: Family planning as decision
Buying a contraceptive pill on the private market is too expensive for many women in developing countries. This is why we have adjusted our supply price for a similar product in such a way that pharmacies can offer the contraceptive pill at a price that is in line with the financial resources of middle-income women. In Ethiopia, an advisory service on family planning is also extended.
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Ulrike von Gilardi and Ariane Püttcher are in charge of the Contraceptive Security Initiative, which Bayer started with USAID in 2010 as one of its Social HealthCare Programs, and managed the launch locally in Kenya.