Partnering with the private sector to expand access to voluntary family planning among women in poverty
We support private-sector partners in China in developing and expanding access to voluntary family planning tools that can serve low-income women around the world.
Voluntary family planning is central to global health equity. The use of contraceptives helps reduce maternal deaths, unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages, and infant deaths. According to United Nations statistics, however, about 218 million women in low- and middle-income countries lack access to affordable, safe, and effective contraceptives.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes subcutaneous contraceptive implants as a safe, efficient, and reversible long-acting contraceptive method, but their high price means that they are not as widely used as they could be. To address this challenge, we have identified partners in the private sector and funded their efforts to develop and scale up manufacture of these products.
One of our partners is a Chinese company that developed an affordable implant that uses two silicone rods containing a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel, which is similar to natural progesterone. Implanted under the skin, the device provides contraception for three years by continuously releasing a low dose of levonorgestrel. We provided technical support to the company through FHI 360, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to health and development. This helped the product obtain WHO prequalification in 2017 and become only the second implant of its kind to receive this certification. WHO prequalification expands access to the device in low- and middle-income countries through international organizations’ procurement and distribution channels.
Since 2017, more than 6 million of these implants have been delivered to countries and regions outside China, mostly through aid agencies such as the UN Population Fund. This marks a significant contribution to more equitable access to contraceptives in poor regions. These devices are estimated to have prevented more than 5 million unwanted pregnancies and more than 8,000 maternal deaths, saving US$250 million in public health costs.
Learn more about the foundation’s global efforts in family planning