In recent years, the government of Russia has renewed its efforts to stimulate population growth in the Russian Federation through a series of strategic initiatives. These initiatives include the Maternal Capital policy, which encourages birth or adoption of second and subsequent children among married couples, and the declaration of 2008 as the Year of the Family. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, Russia’s rate of induced abortions in 2008 was 42.2 percent, while the average global rate was 22 percent of all pregnancies (Sukhikh and Yarotzkaya, 2010). Reproductive health (RH) experts indicate that at least 70 percent of women of reproductive age would have to use modern contraceptives in order to decrease the number of abortions (Sukhikh and Yarotzkaya, 2010). However, a population-based survey conducted by the Independent Institute of Social Policies in 2009 as part of the United Nations–led global Generations and Gender Program, indicated that only 51.8 percent of Russian women used modern methods in 2007.
In December 2010, the Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) project, led by Abt Associates, explored the possibility of developing a strategy to expand the hormonal contraceptive market in Russia, with a particular focus on oral contraceptives (OCs). Previous assessments revealed common trends across Europe and Eurasia, such as persistently high rates of abortion and slow adoption of modern contraceptive methods, particularly hormonal oral contraception such as combined oral contraceptives. The SHOPS project partnered with Bayer Schering Pharma (now Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals) to conduct market research in Russia to gain insights into consumer and health care provider attitudes. Bayer has a successful history of working with donor-funded programs to improve contraceptive security through combined supply and demand activities, and the company has a significant presence in the Russian market. In September 2010, Abt Associates and Bayer signed a letter of intent in which both companies agreed to enter into a partnership to explore opportunities in Russia to expand the provision of high-quality modern method contraceptive products and services. The assessment set forth the following objectives:
- To identify recommendations for increasing access to and use of high-quality commercial contraceptives among non-users, especially lower-income non-users
- To identify recommendations for increasing the private sector market of hormonal contraceptives, including OCs, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other methods, among lower-income users