(May 2010) The growing use of family planning around the world gives women and couples the ability to choose the number and spacing of their children. Policymakers and family planning advocates are increasingly aware that modern contraception offers tremendous benefits through improved health and economic well-being. Yet helping women and men achieve their reproductive goals relies on a number of critical policy and programmatic steps, including:

  • Having the right quantity and combination of products in facilities to serve clients' needs.
  • Using a well-functioning distribution system to get supplies to the right locations and on schedule.
  • Ensuring adequate funding to purchase needed supplies and to keep facilities operating.

When these steps are coordinated, family planning programs can help ensure that women and men can choose, obtain, and use a wide range of high-quality, affordable contraceptive methods and condoms whenever they want or need them. Achieving this goal of contraceptive security requires sustainable strategies that ensure access to high-quality contraceptive supplies and services.

A new set of seven PRB policy briefs—collectively Contraceptive Security: A Toolkit for Policy Audiences—is designed to introduce the key elements of contraceptive security and provide field-based experiences to illustrate policy and programmatic advances.

Using Contraceptive Security: A Toolkit for Policy Audiences

The set of policy briefs is meant to provide policymakers, program managers, advocates, and the media with basic information about achieving contraceptive security. It includes six briefs that address specific topics related to contraceptive security. Each brief includes key messages and supporting information, country-based experiences, and next steps for policy audiences to advance the policy and programmatic issue covered in the brief.

  • Contraceptive Security For Policy Audiences: An Overview (PDF: 558KB) provides an introduction to the six briefs in this toolkit, an explanation about why attention has recently turned to contraceptive security, and examples of how countries are achieving contraceptive security.
  • Planning for Contraceptive Security: Start With SPARHCS (PDF: 699KB) introduces the Strategic Pathway to Reproductive Health Commodity Security (SPARHCS) framework, which focuses on how a country or program can begin to develop strategies for contraceptive security.
  • Financing Contraceptives: A New Funding Environment (PDF: 694KB) addresses changes in development assistance and how national governments are increasingly identifying ways to pay for the contraceptive needs of women and men.
  • Procuring Contraceptives: Options for Countries (PDF: 647KB) examines some of the common regulatory issues that affect the use of public funds to purchase contraceptives and other health supplies; it also provides examples of how countries can collaborate in sharing information about procurement.
  • Policy Environment: Understanding the Context for Contraceptive Security (PDF: 653KB) examines the importance of advocacy, data use, and capacity building in creating and sustaining political commitment, and the roles that stakeholders from government, civil society, and the private sector play in efforts to achieve contraceptive security. 
  • Supply Chain: Getting Contraceptives to Users (PDF: 758KB) underscores the importance of political support for achieving contraceptive security and illustrates how civil society and the commercial sector can be involved in these efforts.
  • Priority Actions and Recommendations for Contraceptive Security (PDF: 374KB) brings together a set of next steps on each of the above-mentioned topics to assist stakeholders in helping their countries achieve contraceptive security.

By sharing experiences and lessons learned, advocates and policymakers can better hone successful strategies to achieve contraceptive security.

Achieving Contraceptive Security Is Possible

Although contraceptive security entails a number of complex issues, many countries have made significant advances toward it. Successful approaches employed in Kenya, Rwanda, Brazil, Bangladesh, and a number of other countries are described in the toolkit policy briefs.

Achieving contraceptive security requires ongoing commitment and builds on continuing advances. These improvements require strategic planning, the involvement of multiple stakeholders, and the work of advocates who effectively make the case for supporting each aspect of contraceptive security. Some advances are large and some are small, but they all represent efforts within a given political context to help ensure that women and men can obtain and use the family planning method of their choice.


James Gribble is vice president of International Programs, Population Reference Bureau.