Access to safe, quality, and effective contraceptives, medicines and equipment is paramount to women’s reproductive health and their ability to plan their family. Quality contraceptives and maternal health medicines help avert unintended pregnancies, maternal and child deaths and unsafe abortions. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supplies countries that need them and helps strengthen their supply chains so that women and adolescent girls can access a choice of contraceptives, no matter where they live. For planning and programming purposes and to ensure transparency and accountability, using digital mapping technology, such as the Geographic Information System (GIS), to monitor and track reproductive health commodity distribution, including location of health facilities, is deemed important.
Towards a Solution
The Partners in Population and Development (PPD), an intergovernmental body of 26 developing countries mandated to promote South-South cooperation in the areas of reproductive health, population and development, is looking at Nigeria’s pilot implementation in the application of such GIS technology. The choice of Nigeria, which is a member of PPD, is based on its geospatial data infrastructure that would enable and facilitate GIS data analysis and as a UNFPA programme country with interventions in family planning and reproductive health.
Nigeria, in partnership with PPD and with support from UNFPA, initiated a collaborative effort to explore the benefits of utilising GIS as a logistics management tool in reproductive health supply monitoring, with huge potential for onward sharing to other PPD countries. All collaborating partners acknowledged the merits of utilising GIS which include:
- providing useful maps that visualise and communicate programme data, including geo-referenced disaggregated data at sub-national level;
- establishing a foundation for data analysis within a geographic context;
- increasing access, use, and value of data from multiple sectors;
- supplying a point of reference for discussion among programme key stakeholders;
- tracking the commodity distribution for a better targeting of resources; and
- availability of time-series data that provides geo-referenced information on health commodity related issues.
With its ability to manage, analyse and visualise data, GIS is a cost-effective monitoring tool that is helpful for tracking the reproductive health commodity distribution, including location of health facilities, that is important for evidence-based decision making and resource allocation.