IUSSP Scientific Panel on Reproductive Health

Call for papers

International Seminar on Increasing Use of Reproductive Health Services through Community-based and Health Care Financing Programmes: Impact and Sustainability
Organized by: 
The IUSSP Scientific Panel on Reproductive Health
in collaboration with the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol Unversity
Bangkok, Thailand, 23-25 August 2012

Deadline for submission: 20 January 2012


Achieving universal access to reproductive health is one of the targets set for realizing the Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) on improving maternal health. The most recent UN Report of progress towards the MDGs indicates that although significant strides have been made on several fronts, reaching this target by 2015 remains challenging. It observes that not enough women receive the recommended care during pregnancy; gains made during the 1990s to reduce adolescent pregnancies have stalled in many regions; and the unmet need for contraceptives remains high in many regions with inadequate support for family planning, for example. Greater emphasis on wide-scale implementation of proven, cost-effective measures is, therefore, required to achieve universal access to reproductive health.

Several approaches have been implemented in the past that aim to mobilize support for sexual and reproductive health, enhance the availability and affordability of services,  advocate for the exercise of healthy sexual and reproductive choices, and promote the optimum use of available services. Two leading ways to achieving these objectives  are community-based approaches (CB), and health care financing/assistance approaches.  Considering CB approaches,, several models of community-based programmes (health education, outreach services by community-based workers, community-based distribution of services, community mobilization activities) have been developed and implemented at various scales to increase access to and promote the use of family planning services. Many programmes are implemented to improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes and to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and adults in several settings. The extent to which these models have been rigorously implemented and their population-level impact measured is uneven and their findings have been mixed. Moreover, wide-scale implementation of these models has been fraught with concerns about their sustainability.

More recently, health care financing through social assistance/protection programmes that transfer resources directly to poor and vulnerable people in the form of conditional and unconditional cash transfers, vouchers and free or subsidized access to services have been increasingly implemented to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services in several low and middle income countries. There is growing evidence that a number of these programmes have resulted in increased utilization of such services as family planning, antenatal and post-natal care, institutional delivery and so on. Yet, the analytical methodologies supporting the evidence base vary substantially in terms of robustness. Moreover, while the current evidence base is strongest in relation to immediate and direct impacts, evidence on long-term and population level impact, for example, on final health outcomes and the sustainability of these approaches remains ambiguous. In addition, evidence on optimal cost-effective approaches is sparse.

The seminar aims to bring together scientists, policy makers and programme managers to present and discuss the available evidence from case studies, empirical research or overview articles on the impact and sustainability of community-based and health care financing programmes that seek to increase the use of sexual and reproductive health services and improve related outcomes in developing countries and to identify gaps for future research. Preference will be given to papers addressing either methodologies to better study the impact and sustainability of these programmes or documenting the evidence from cases studies or overviews on questions, such as:

  • What factors facilitate or hinder the success of health care financing or community-based programmes that seek to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes?
  • What is the potential for sustainable scaling up of  pilot programmes? What are programme characteristics and expansion processes that lead to sustainability?
  • What is the population health impact of scaled-up programmes?
  • What are the best methodologies for measuring effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these programmes?
  • Are these programmes reaching vulnerable and most-in-need groups?
  • Has the spurt in demand that health care financing programmes may have generated compromised the quality of care?
  • What are the implications for programmes and policies for scaling up community-based and health care financing programmes?

Online Submissions
The IUSSP Panel on Reproductive Health invite scientists, policy makers and programme managers to submit online by 20 January 2012 a short 200-word abstract AND upload an extended abstract (2 to 4 pages, including tables) or a full paper, which must be unpublished. To submit please fill out the online submission form.

Submission should be made by the author who will attend the seminar. If the paper is co-authored, please indicate the names of co-authors at the end of the abstract. The seminar will be limited to a maximum of 20 completed papers.

Papers submitted should be unpublished. The Panel will consider publication of a set of papers presented at the seminar.
The working language at the seminar will be English. Abstracts and final papers should therefore be submitted and presented in English.

Applicants will be notified whether their submission has been accepted by 20 February 2012.  In the case of acceptance on the basis of an abstract, the completed paper must be uploaded on the IUSSP website by 15 July 2012.

Current funding for the seminar is limited and efforts are under way to raise additional funds. At present, IUSSP is unable to commit supporting the participation of those invited to present the paper at the seminar. Applicants are, therefore, strongly encouraged to seek their own funding. Those who are applying for financial assistance from the IUSSP should indicate this by ticking the appropriate box on the online submission form. Applicants will be informed of the status of their application for financial support by 20 July 2012.

For further information, please contact Iqbal H. Shah (IqbalH.Shah@gmail.com).

IUSSP Scientific Panel on Reproductive Health:
Chair: Iqbal H. Shah
Members: John G. Cleland, Sarah Harbison, Ondina Fachel Leal, K.G. Santhya and Eliya M.Zulu