With growing evidence that technologies can yield time and resource efficiencies and improve quality of care—resulting in better patient outcomes—in 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations for digital interventions for health systems strengthening. This brief uses the WHO definition of digital health from the draft Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2024: “the field of knowledge and practice associated with the development and use of digital technologies to improve health.” The recommendations include interventions in mHealth (medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices) and eHealth (the use of information and communication technologies for health), with the most recent evidence largely focused on mHealth.
The Task Sharing Strategic Planning Guide is intended to lead program managers, planners, and policymakers through a strategic process to determine if and how task sharing family planning (FP) services can be used to help achieve development goals. Task sharing is defined as the systematic redistribution of family planning services, including counseling and provision of contraceptive methods, to expand the range of health workers who can deliver services (WHO, 2017). Task sharing is a safe, effective, and efficient means to improve access to voluntary sexual and reproductive health services and reach national FP goals.
This brief outlines how, when appropriately designed and implemented, community health worker programs can increase use of contraception, particularly where unmet need is high, access is low, and geographic or social barriers to use of services exist. The brief describes the importance of community-based family planning programs as a means of reducing inequities in access to services and outlines key issues for planning and implementation.
Expanding access to contraceptive methods through the private sector and community-based sources—which includes task sharing—is an important strategy to help achieve national family planning and development goals and, in particular, aims to reduce barriers to access for youth, lower-income, and other marginalized groups. Private sector pharmacies and drug shops are often the first line of health care in low- and middle-income countries, particularly for many underserved populations and especially in rural areas that have very few private or public clinics. While there are differences between pharmacies and drug shops, there are also common issues around implementation and impact. For both, training and support can improve and expand the range and quality of services they offer and thereby increase access and choice for women.
This strategic planning guide is intended to guide program managers, planners, and decision-makers through a process to identify inequities in family planning and interventions to reduce them. The guide was developed through consultation and deliberation with technical experts in family planning and health equity and builds upon a discussion paper on equity in family planning developed under the Partnership for High Impact Practices for Family Planning.