What’s That You Say? Speaking the Same Language About Contraceptive Availability

June 1st, 2016 | Viewpoint


Outbreaks once again underscore the need to ensure that quality contraceptives are consistently available for all who want them. Yet, are we speaking the same language when we talk about “stockouts”?

When a person looking for contraceptives goes home empty-handed, it is the result of gaps in reproductive health services or a break somewhere along the supply chain. When supply interruptions occur, documenting and reporting the stockouts are critical steps in determining when, where, and why they happened. What went wrong can be determined most effectively when stockouts are reported in a clear and consistent way. This helps policymakers, advocates, program managers, and health care providers address stockouts quickly and prevent them in the future.

For the first time, the global reproductive health community has developed a harmonized suite of indicators to measure stockouts and availability of contraceptives in a clear, consistent, and more meaningful and useful way.

We cannot overcome together what we cannot see together. We are forging a common vision of what we must overcome.”

John Skibiak, Director of the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

With its decades of experience in supply chain management, JSI provided the technical leadership for this initiative, working with the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and convening a Stockout Indicators Advisory Group* of key global partners to come to a consensus on how to collectively define and measure contraceptive stockouts. JSI led an extensive and consultative process that included a series of surveys, interviews, field tests, and advisory group consultations to develop the final indicators suite. This consultative process has resulted in standardized indicators that Advisory Group members are committed to adopting into their programs.

Suite’s indicator categories & primary indicators
Suite’s indicator categories and  primary indicators.

Case in point—FP2020 has adopted two of the suite’s primary indicators, including the universal indicator. To continue this momentum, the RHSC is implementing an advocacy plan that PAI developed to encourage additional global partners and country programs to adopt the indicators, and is promoting these harmonization efforts through the RHSC’s campaign, Take Stock. USAID, UNFPA, PMA2020, Track20, and other global partners are also working to ensure the adoption and application of the harmonized stockout indicators.

The indicator reference guide (Harmonized Suite of Indicators to Measure Stockouts and Availability of Contraceptives) can be found in English, French, and Spanish on the RHSC and Take Stock websites. Detailed definitions and data collection methods are included. A background report on the activity, including field test findings, is also available. Factsheets are available in the three languages as well.

*Stockout Indicators Advisory Group member organizations can be seen below.


Written by Suzy Sacher

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