Reaching the under-served

Young people

Our programmes are increasingly designed to meet the needs of young women for whose health and wellbeing the consequences of unmet need for contraception are particularly devastating.

Pregnancy is the leading cause of death among teenage girls in developing countries. Girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications as women in their twenties. Early pregnancy also leads girls to drop out of education earlier.

Young people are often considered harder to reach through traditional service delivery mechanisms - as these services may not meet their needs - a problem we are striving to address through youth-friendly targeted services. Our research shows that our centres and our social franchises are the preferred service delivery channels for young people and attract more young women than our other delivery methods.

We’re continuing to develop more and more youth-friendly services, and in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Mali, more than 50% of our family planning clients are under 25 years old.

Looking ahead, our team in Viet Nam are planning to develop a single SMS-based platform that will deliver youth-targeted health information, client follow up and vouchers. This scheme was developed through our Innovations Fund which seeks to support innovations in our country programmes and generate wider organisational learning.

The need to address unwanted pregnancy in young people is growing, fuelled by the largest youth population ever in history - now entering their child-bearing years. 

Read more about about the impact of our work with young people in the impact section of our website

Social marketing

Social marketing of contraceptives is another way in which we’re able to target family planning services at particular groups with high unmet needs.

Our social marketing programme markets and distributes low cost and free condoms, pills and other contraceptive and health products through pharmacies, community-based distributors and other private providers.

Social marketing brings short term and emergency contraceptive methods closer to the client. And it provides an opportunity to offer information and referrals to outreach or clinic facilities for clients interested in long-acting or permanent methods.

The short term methods have branding and advertising tailored to appeal to a particular target market, such as Aramish (“peace”) condoms which are targeted at married couples inAfghanistan. 

Refugees and IDPs

Refugees, internally displaced people, and victims of natural disasters are particularly vulnerable to a lack of sexual and reproductive health services.

In these situations, basic health services often fall apart and family planning services can be difficult or impossible to access. Women are vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse, which often results in an increase in unsafe abortions. Women therefore are ill-equipped to prevent or deal with an unintended pregnancy, or sexually transmitted infections.

Conditions in camps are often insanitary and women are weakened and traumatised by flight and exile, so giving birth can be even more hazardous for refugee women than for other women living in poverty. Emergencies such as haemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, and obstructed labour pose a real threat to their lives.

In countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Yemen, we work in partnership with humanitarian agencies, working in crises and emergency settings to provide reproductive health services as part of a basic health care package.

This includes family planning, safe motherhood, emergency obstetrics, post-abortion care and diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, as well as offering training to professionals.