Fostering optimal health markets—the third of four webinars

SHOPS Plus continued its end-of-project series, Accelerating Private Sector Engagement, with a webinar on health market development, moderated by Caroline Quijada, SHOPS Plus deputy project director. The June 30th webinar highlighted the project’s experience supporting health markets to expand access to quality family planning, child health, and HIV products and services. Project leaders shared lessons from activities in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nepal, and Uganda. Over 600 people registered and more than 150 participated live.

Evolving rules and norms

Ramakrishnan Ganesan, senior private sector advisor at Abt Associates, set the stage for the webinar with a discussion on the importance of market development in family planning and HIV programs.

Ganesan said, “The rules and norms guiding health markets are changing. Compared to a few years back, I think we’re seeing a much greater interest today in engaging the total market and including the commercial sector.”

He cited a few trends that appear to drive this: greater visibility into the market with tools to visualize and interpret the data, such as Private Sector Counts and FP Market Analyzer; a decrease in donor funding; and innovations in digital solutions and self-care products.

Ganesan discussed an example of an activity he managed in Uganda in which SHOPS Plus encouraged the registration of HIV self-test kits.

Visualizing optimal markets

Michelle Weinberger, modeling and segmentation advisor at Avenir Health, discussed the power of data in supporting the creation of optimal health markets. She presented heat maps from a new analysis of geospatial patterns that showed the use of the private and public sectors for family planning products and services. 

Michelle Weinberger presented heat maps from Nepal to show opportunities for where the private health sector could serve more women with family planning products and services.


“Something I have found again and again, all over the world, is that people hold preconceived notions about what a market looks like or doesn't look like, and often these notes don't line up to what the data shows,” says Weinberger. She then gave a demonstration of the tool Family Planning Market Analyzer. She showed what would happen in Rwanda if implants increased in popularity—a current trend now in sub-Saharan Africa—and what would happen if the private sector were to play a greater role in the provision of long-acting reversible methods.

Advancing policy change

Mbogo Bunyi, senior private sector advisor at Abt Associates, shared Rwanda’s efforts in successfully removing policy barriers to expand market access for injectables.

SHOPS Plus found that the demand for injectable contraceptives in Rwanda’s private sector outstripped the supply. They discovered a potential market of women who are able to pay for commercially-priced injectables in the private sector. The project supported the Association of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Owners of Rwanda to advocate for policy change to allow private pharmacists to administer intramuscular injectable contraceptives—a first in the country. Learn about the advocacy change in a new brief.

Increasing choice for consumers

Soumitra Ghosh, senior private sector advisor at Abt Associates, shared his experiences with new product introductions and the importance of demand interventions in healthy market growth. 

He opined that a dominance of free and subsidized contraceptives going unchecked can hurt demand for commercial contraceptives and other health products.

In such scenarios, Ghosh said it’s critical to “catalyze and shake up the entire market by introducing new products, creating innovative distribution channels, and implementing attractive social behavior campaigns to address supply- and the demand-side barriers.” SHOPS Plus introduced several new products through social marketing partners in Afghanistan, Nepal and Tanzania. These introductions have had two benefits: improving the social marketing organizations’ financial viability and attracting more commercial brands to the market.

The health markets webinar was the third in a four-part series reflecting on global investments and field programs with USAID Missions. Highlighting achievements and lessons learned since 2015, private sector health experts covered broad thematic areas that affect access to health services through the private sector: stewardship, financing, and health markets. The final webinar looked at the project’s results, their implications, and what the future holds. Learn more at

Health Area



Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.

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