What is the problem?

It is not uncommon for a woman to travel an entire day seeking access to the implant or pills that prevent pregnancy, improve her family’s quality of life and potentially even save her life. But all too often, she arrives at the clinic only to find that the shelves are bare, before starting on her journey homeward empty-handed, knowing how much more at risk her life has just become.

The consequences of a woman leaving a clinic empty-handed are real. Stockouts of reproductive health supplies are a barrier to improving women’s and children’s health, reducing maternal mortality and supporting women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights. Stockouts are linked to the discontinuation of contraceptive use and are cited as a reason for unmet need and high rates of unintended pregnancies in many countries.

Source: Contraceptive Stockouts, 2015

How does it happen?

Stockouts are a problem that has confounded experts not only because of the underlying complexity of the issue, but because the indignation of key stakeholders all too often succumbs, over time, to the same forces that make stockouts an everyday occurrence – limited or unsustained resources, indifference and competing concerns.

Several key factors are linked to stockouts of contraceptives supplies including long lead-times for procurement or delivery of products due to bureaucratic and manufacturing processes, insufficient funding for commodities and supply chain operation, lack of supply chain training for health providers and the need to improve supply chain information systems and forecasting of stock needs.

Maternidad_22_Farmacia_TAKESTOCK_Valeria Eguche

How do we solve it?

Resolving stockouts of reproductive health supplies requires a passionate response from public health leaders, organizations and individuals. Central to solving this critical issue is generating the motivation and political will needed to meaningfully mobilize action. Take Stock will inspire a passionate response.

Resolving stockouts requires clear commitments from ministries of health, national and international organizations, donors companies and individuals to take tangible action. Take Stock will showcase commitments.

Resolving stockouts requires a standard way of measuring stockouts. Using the Universal Stockout Indicator, we agree on how to measure success and we hold our governments and ourselves accountable for achieving our commitments. Take Stock will report on successes with shared language and indicators.

What is being done?

Members of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition are taking action to end stockouts of reproductive health supplies.

The Coalition created Take Stock to mobilize a passionate response from public health leaders. Take Stock is increasing awareness of this critical problem. Take Stock is inspiring commitments from Coalition members to take action. Take Stock is sharing success stories and best practices.

Coalition members and the public health community are:

  • Measuring stockouts with the Universal Stockout Indicator to assess the frequency and magnitude of stockouts. Take Stock commitments often include financial support for training researchers and staff to monitor and report on the universal indicator.
  • Piloting interventions designed to dramatically reduce the frequency, duration and number of methods stocked out.
  • Facilitating national-level policy changes to avert stockouts in pilot countries.
  • Increasing the evidence base demonstrating effective strategies and sharing lessons and experience.
  • Making commitments to take actions that resolve stockouts of reproductive health supplies.