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65% of Pakistan’s population live in rural areas where they have limited access to healthcare, including family planning and reproductive health services.
Using our social franchising model – called Suraj in Pakistan – we have been working to fill the gaps in the provision of comprehensive reproductive health services in the most hard to reach communities.
Partnering with the private sector: seeing the potential
While a significant proportion of healthcare services in Pakistan are delivered by the private sector, the figure is much lower for family planning services. We saw that there was a real opportunity to build the capacity of private local healthcare providers to make sure that quality reproductive health services are part of their offer.
The Suraj social franchise network is a partnership between us and these providers which aims to increase informed demand, access and choice for rural, under-served and poor communities.
Since we launched Suraj five years ago, our team has trained and accredited over 300 private healthcare providers on family planning and other reproductive health services. And during that time, we’ve reached out to more than 500,000 people.
Taking information to women at their doorstep
The success of Suraj has been down to more than just making services available. By supporting the franchised providers with a network of field-based health educators (FHEs), women have been able to learn what services they are entitled to and where they can access them.
FHEs are recruited and trained to represent Suraj within their local community, with one assigned to each social franchisee. They make door to door visits to provide information on the range of available contraceptive methods, support couples to make an informed and voluntary choice on contraceptive uptake and connect them to the closest Suraj clinic in the area.
Most importantly, FHEs distribute vouchers to people who can’t afford to pay for services. The vouchers are redeemable at local Suraj clinics ensuring poor women are able to access the family planning services of their choice, free of charge.
One of our Suraj social franchisees told us:
“MSS training was very beneficial to me. After being provided with a field health educator and voucher reimbursement under the Suraj network, I was happy to see a sharp increase in the number of women coming to my clinic.”
The Suraj social franchise network provides services in 50 rural districts in the Punjab, KP and Sindh provinces of Pakistan. The franchisees provide short-term and long-term family planning services and referral support for permanent family planning methods.
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