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The logistics of voucher management: the underreported component in family planning voucher discussions

Authors Ali M, Farron M, Azmat SK, Hameed W

Received 26 October 2017

Accepted for publication 18 July 2018

Published 22 November 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 683—690


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Moazzam Ali,1 Madeline Farron,2 Syed Khurram Azmat,3,4 Waqas Hameed5

1Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; 2School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; 3Department of Uro-Gynecology, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; 4Department of Health Information Systems, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada; 5Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Department, Technical Services, Marie Stopes Society, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

Background: The purpose of health care vouchers or coupons is to receive a health service in exchange which is fully or partially subsidized, such as any treatment offered for communicable disease; for immunization; antenatal care-/postnatal care-related maternal health services; a family planning (FP) service; or to get a health commodity like a medicine. Vouchers are targeted for a group of people who can benefit the most such as on the basis of poverty ranking, marginalized or living in rural areas. According to the World Health Organization, voucher schemes in the area of sexual and reproductive health are considered of high value if they are implemented to address the issues of contraceptive commodity or service unavailability or to address the barriers to access such services through contracting out health services, for example, through social franchising (SF). FP vouchers can substantially expand contraceptive access and choice and empower the underserved populations. Literature cites voucher’s effectiveness in better targeting, increasing use, and improving program outcomes in FP programs; however, there is little research or explanation of how voucher management is done in practice.
Discussion: The paper attempts to describe various components of voucher management system and its functioning using example of a voucher program in Pakistan. There are challenges such as high upfront cost, targeting the appropriate clients, validation of vouchers, and quality assurance, but these can be managed with better preparation at the planning and design stage. Strong monitoring and evaluation are integral to successful implementation of the voucher program. Also, voucher interventions that are targeted and adopt a pro-poor strategy have been found to improve access to care within poor and marginalized populations. Such programs have the capacity to bridge health inequities in developing nations. Targeted voucher schemes such as those which are designed as pro-poor or pro-rural are known to reduce barriers to access for those living with poverty or for the ones considered as marginalized population. Hence, such interventions have the capacity to fulfill the gaps in health inequities, especially, in low- and/or middle-income countries.
Conclusion: Voucher programs should report the voucher logistics and management to build a larger evidence base of best practices. All voucher schemes must be designed, implemented, and evaluated on the basis of set objectives through addressing the local context. But any voucher implementing organization also conducting the in-house voucher management simultaneously may be considered as a weakness in program design, in turn providing rationale for either failure or success of that particular voucher intervention. Therefore, separating implementation and management of a voucher initiative can lead to enhanced transparency, improved accountability, allow for independent validation of services, and facilitate compliance for payments.

Keywords: voucher management, contraception, validation, Pakistan

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