A study protocol: using demand-side financing to meet the birth spacing needs of the underserved in Punjab Province in Pakistan.Reprod Health 2014; 11:39RH
High fertility rates, unwanted pregnancies, low modern contraceptive prevalence and a huge unmet need for contraception adversely affect women's health in Pakistan and this problem is compounded by limited access to reliable information and quality services regarding birth spacing especially in rural and underserved areas. This paper presents a study protocol that describes an evaluation of a demand-side financing (DSF) voucher approach which aims to increase the uptake of modern contraception among women of the lowest two wealth quintiles in Punjab Province, Pakistan.
This study will use quasi-experimental design with control arm and be implemented in: six government clinics from the Population Welfare Department; 24 social franchise facilities branded as 'Suraj' (Sun), led by Marie Stopes Society (a local non-governmental organization); and 12 private sector clinics in Chakwal, Mianwali and Bhakkar districts. The study respondents will be interviewed at baseline and endline subject to voluntary acceptance and medical eligibility. In addition, health service data will record each client visit during the study period.
The study will examine the impact of vouchers in terms of increasing the uptake of modern contraception by engaging private and public sector service providers (mid-level and medical doctors). If found effective, this approach can be a viable solution to satisfying the current demand and meeting the unmet need for contraception, particularly among the poorest socio-economic group.