Contraceptive source and the for-profit private sector in Third World family planning. Evidence and implications from trends in private sector use in the 1980s.
Estimates by Family Health International and UNFPA predict that the annual cost of modern family planning in meeting the target overall contraceptive prevalence level of 52% will be between $5-9 billion by the year 2000. The number of couples using modern methods of contraception will increase dramatically in future years, incurring great cost to donors, governments, and users. Urbanization, rising incomes, and higher education levels are generally seen as positive factors in permitting an expanded private sector role in the provision of modern contraceptives, providing an alternative source to donor and government programs. The for-profit concerns within the private sector of developing countries, were studied using available 1978-89 data from 26 countries to examine private family planning sources of contraceptives. Also, hypothetical determinants of private family planning use are established and their interrelationship with the use of for-profit family planning services, is investigated. Contrary to result expectations, it was found that use of the major provider for-profit private sector is declining in the face of rising incomes, urbanization, and better education. Government services are crowding out the private sector. Additionally, results indicate a strong user desire for longer-term methods. Full comprehension of the private sector and the factors governing choice of contraceptive source should lead to more effective use of donor and government funding in efforts to achieve set population objectives. Policy and program development will more accurately reflect social needs. Policy implications of the results are discussed.