Voucher programme for safe motherhood and family planning
Yemen has the highest rate of deaths in pregnancy and childbirth in the Middle East. It also has the lowest level of women attending for antenatal care, and the lowest percentage of births attended by skilled health workers. With half of Yemen’s estimated population of 25.5 million people living on less than $2 a day, the cost of accessing medical care is prohibitive and one of the main reasons for not seeking care.
We are leading an innovative project to increase the use of quality maternal health services and family planning through a voucher system. This allows women from poor, rural areas to access medical services at little cost. Working with the Ministry of Public Health and Population and local NGO Yamaan, we designed a voucher scheme which we are now implementing across 16 districts in Yemen.
The project is increasing the uptake of safe motherhood services, with particular focus on skilled birth attendance. The vouchers also enable women to access long-acting methods of family planning at private and public sector health facilities. Vouchers are either sold at a nominal price (in the case of maternal health services) or distributed to women for free (for family planning services). Services are provided through health facilities that meet agreed minimum standards of quality in the provision of services offered under the voucher programme.
The vouchers enable Yemeni women and their families from low-income households to access a package of reproductive health services (covering pre- and postnatal care, safe delivery, transport for delivery and family planning) free at the point of delivery. Once they have received a service, the provider then submits the voucher to a claims processing agency, and is reimbursed at a contracted price. By allowing women to access services at little or no cost, the project removes the major financial barriers that often prevent them from accessing health care. It also ensures a minimum standard of quality and provides funds for service providers that can be reinvested in staff incentives and further quality improvement.
- Our vouchers were used by women in Yemen to access 28,479 antenatal visits; representing a 67% increase in the number of women accessing antenatal services.
- In the areas where our vouchers were distributed, 2,857 caesarean sections were performed for women and 66% more women received family planning counselling, short-term methods and/or long-acting methods.
- 14,852 babies were delivered safely by a trained health care worker.
The voucher scheme is making a significant contribution to improving the health and social welfare of the women reached.
Results as of April 2016.
Our programme is working with more than 113 public and private service providers
66% more women received family planning counselling
29,345 antenatal visits and 2,714 caesarean sections done
24,387 safe deliveries