Low modern contraceptive prevalence rate and high unmet need in Pakistan aggravates the vulnerabilities of unintended pregnancies and births contributing to maternal morbidity and mortality. This research aims to assess the effectiveness of a free, single-purpose voucher approach in increasing the uptake, use and better targeting of modern contraceptives among women from the lowest two wealth quintiles in rural and urban communities of Punjab province, Pakistan.
A quasi-interventional study with pre- and post-phases was implemented across an intervention (Chakwal) and a control district (Bhakkar) in Punjab province (August 2012–January 2015). To detect a 15% increase in modern contraceptive prevalence rate compared to baseline, 1276 women were enrolled in each arm. Difference-in-Differences (DID) estimates are reported for key variables, and concentration curves and index are described for equity.
Compared to baseline, awareness of contraceptives increased by 30 percentage points among population in the intervention area. Vouchers also resulted in a net increase of 16% points in current contraceptive use and 26% points in modern methods use. The underserved population demonstrated better knowledge and utilized the modern methods more than their affluent counterparts. Intervention area also reported a low method-specific discontinuation (13.7%) and high method-specific switching rates (46.6%) amongst modern contraceptive users during the past 24 months. The concentration index indicated that voucher use was more common among the poor and vouchers seem to reduce the inequality in access to modern methods across wealth quintiles.