Pink Star Program (PSP)

Pink Star: a network to offer LARC methods through private sector graduate providers

Social Marketing Company (SMC) is offering Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) services through graduate doctors who are doing private practice. The LARC program started in 2013 with USAID support. This program aims to increase accessibility, availability and utilization of IUD, Implant and Injectable services through private medical practitioners at individual chamber and private facilities. USAID has donated IUD and Implant contraceptives to support the initiative. SMC provides training and ensures supply of IUD and Implant contraceptives to the doctors at subsidized price. SMC implements this program in collaboration with the Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) and the Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of Bangladesh (OGSB). The doctor who has adequate female clients, separate space for counseling and provision of privacy are eligible to enrol in the Pink Star network.

IUD use rate is remaining plateau over the last decade.The method has negative image associated with side-effects and complications mostly due to lack of proper screening and counseling. Myths and misconceptions also contributed for low acceptance of IUD. The provision of offering IUD through graduate doctor is largely contributing to regain its image. SMC overbranded IUD as Relax and Implant as i-plant as a marketing strategy. The program promote Pink Star outlets as a source of quality LARC services.

A branded signboard is hanged outside of the chamber of the providers.Other promotional activities include distribution of brochures and leaflets, placing banners and posters around the catchment areas of service providers. SMC also publishes advertisements in the national dailies and regional newspapers to promote details of providers in different districts separately. SMC is also generating demands through TV commercials and health talk shows. Websites have been developed as a part of digital promotion of the network. Potential clients can get updated information about providers and adjacent service delivery outlets while visiting websites www.relax-iplant.com and www.healthtalkbd.org.

The responses of the program are encouraging. The graduate doctors, in many cases, are proactively discussing with their clients on various family planning methods and informing about the availability of LARC and Injectable services. It may be noted that LARC method users have slightly increased in the country from 2.3% in 2014 to 2.7% in 2017 (BDHS). However, Pink Star program observed 47% sales growth of LARC methods during these four years period (2014 to 2017). The program observed that interpersonal communication and detail counseling is essential to take decision regarding LARC by the potential clients. SMC therefore recruited community level counselors for creating demand for LARC services. As of March 2020, more than 350 active Pink Star providers are offering IUD and Implant services across the country. In the inception year 2013, the program distributed 2,887 LARC methods (Relax and i-plant) which have increased to 10,864 in 2019. Since inception, they have administered over 25,000 IUDs, 12,000 implants and 80,000 injectables from their outlets.

A study was conducted in June 2018 to measure the attitude, perception and practice of the Pink Star providers and LARC users who received services from them. Field Investigators interviewed 200 IUD and 133 Implant users. In addition, 132 Pink Star providers of the network were also interviewed. Following are some of the major findings of the study:

            • In most cases, providers administer IUDs during cesarean delivery or post abortion care.

            • SMC appointed counselors who play a critical role for creating awareness and motivate users to                         accept LARC methods.

            • The major motivating factors of the users for adopting LARC methods include these give                                     protection for longer period and are hassle free.

            • About 90% IUD users and more than 92% Implant users were satisfied with receiving services                               from the Pink Star providers. 

Pink Star Provider Coverage by Division

Divisions # of Districts covered Male Female Total
Barishal 4 6 12 18
Chattogram 7 3 87 90
Dhaka 9 5 99 104
Khulna 7 9 27 36
Mymensingh 2 1 14 15
Rajshahi 6 0 44 44
Rangpur 6 2 20 22
Sylhet 3 1 26 27
Total 44 27 329 356