According to the United States Agency for International Development, “contraceptive security” exists when people are able to choose, obtain, and use high quality contraceptives and condoms whenever they want them for family planning and HIV/AIDS/STI prevention. PSIA seeks to advance contraceptive security through Social-Commercial Marketing, a first-of-its kind model that provides continuous availability of high quality contraceptive products to informed and educated consumers at an affordable price.
Over the past 20 plus years of contraceptive social marketing programming (CSM), we have learned that while supply is necessary, it is not sufficient to guarantee contraceptive security. CSM relies almost exclusively on the good will of governments to develop programs and donors to provide on-going funding for implementation. While this traditional model provides contraceptive products to users at a low, subsidized cost, the limitations are many:
a) Supply may be interrupted at any time due to lack of funding or changes in policy or administration.
b) There may be no diversity to choose a contraceptive method, and
c) Users may not be well-informed about proper use.
In order to satisfy the demand for contraceptive methods, we have developed a new model that emphasizes continuous availability and includes all of the components required to achieve contraceptive security. Users must be able to make informed choices from a full range of high quality methods at affordable prices. Furthermore, making emphasis on the correct use of the method, once it has been chosen.
Social-Commercial Marketing is an innovative strategy, different from contraceptive social marketing, and is designed to be self-sustaining, ensuring uninterrupted availability of contraceptive products, and overcome the limitations of the traditional model.
Social-Commercial Marketing was pilot-tested in Venezuela, in response to the low levels of donor funding dedicated to reproductive health in the region; this model has as the essential element, a highly coordinated partnership between PSIA’s non-governmental organization (NGO) and a commercial distributor (CD) of reproductive health products.
The NGO develops country-specific information-education-communication campaigns that: (1) seek to provide beneficiaries with adequate information and skills to prevent an unexpected pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, and (2) promote the demand for effective methods of contraception offered by the CD.
These products compete in the private sector at prices significantly lower than other brands. At the same time, depending upon the nature of the agreement, the CD passes a significant percentage of the net profits back to the NGO to support its principal activities.