Many countries face the challenge of meeting people’s rising demand for contraceptives, including condoms1 , and other essential reproductive health supplies. Attention was first drawn to the challenge by projections of shortfalls in the financing required to pay for these supplies. The problem, though, is often not only one of financing, but also of disruptions and vulnerabilities in the many systems that need to work well, work together, and have the resiliency to adapt to changes to ensure that reproductive health supplies are available to people.
SPARHCS (pronounced “sparks”) – Strategic Pathway to Reproductive Health Commodity Security – is an approach to help countries address these concerns and develop and implement strategies for reproductive health commodity security (RHCS).2 During the 2001 conference Meeting the Reproductive Health Challenge: Securing Contraceptives and Condoms for HIV/AIDS Prevention, held in Istanbul, donors and countries called for a common approach and framework to operationalize RHCS. In response, under the leadership of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a wide range of collaborating agencies provided technical inputs, participated in workshops, and assisted with field tests to develop SPARHCS.