Ujjwal partnership to scale up maternal and newborn health solutions through the private sector
Ujjwal is a Palladium managed project under the UK aid Framework for Results to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world. Partnering with ayzh, a for profit social enterprise that develops and distributes low-cost health technology, Ujjwal is creating a sustainable market for the ayzh Clean Birth Kit in two Indian states with poor maternal and newborn health indicators: Bihar and Odisha.
The partnership: breaking barriers to market entry
The Ujjwal- ayzh partnership has been critical in helping ayzh expand into new low-resource and high priority health markets in Northern India. The new partnership reflects Ujjwal’s key focus on both maternal and newborn child health and beyond family planning under its financial viability initiative. Through Ujjwal, Palladium and ayzh have successfully reached out to providers to promote the long term use of ayzh birth kits with private providers, marketing its benefits for mothers and children.
‘Clean birth practices can prevent sepsis, one of the leading causes of maternal and new born mortality. Recent evidence has shown that clean birth kits can reduce maternal deaths even in facility based births in less developed regions’- Dr Amit Bhanot, Project Director, Ujjwal.
Ujjwal has franchised a vibrant network of more than 300 private providers to improve access to family planning and maternal health services across both states. In addition to the kits, prioritised RMNCH products have been made available to private clinics, with franchisors offering more than just clinical services in order to increase value proposition.
Through Ujjwal, Palladium was able to identify and tackle two key barriers to product scale up:
• Market Access: despite the need for clean birth kits in low resource settings, flooding new markets with a new product can be a significant hurdle for social enterprises like ayzh. Palladium connected ayzh with local project outreach officers and community based social entrepreneurs to facilitate entry into the complex network of private health care facilities in Bihar and Odisha. Rather than developing a market from scratch, Ujjwal introduced ayzh to an established network of clinics and doctors.
• Marketing costs: creating behavior change in the global health space requires significant investment in market development resources. Because clean birth kits are a new concept for many clinics, product samples are essential to gaining community acceptance. Through Ujjwal, Palladium absorbed significant marketing costs for ayzh by supporting the distribution of 4,000 clean birth kit samples. This gave ayzh the ability to offer a promotional package (buy 1 kit, get 2 free) for first time buyers- assisting project scale up.
Market scale up: results for ayzh
Over the course of 10 months, the Ujjwal- ayzh partnership allowed ayzh to distribute and sell a total of 5,664 kits to 33 clinics in Bihar, and 13 clinics across Odisha. Thanks to additional support for product samples and promotional kits, more than 25% of total kits were distributed to clinics themselves- reflecting strong local buy-in.
The partnership has been transformational. In addition to exceeding sales targets and generating market demand for the birth kits, promotional kit targets were also exceeded- with the process of kit co-creation and customization based on market needs helping eliminate initial market barriers. Clear positive kit feedback was also received, leading to the development of a clear strategy for the next stage of project delivery.
"Quality of care in the private sector especially around delivery practices can rapidly improve a population’s health outcomes. This has been an interesting partnership, very aligned with how we are trying to create positive impact at Palladium through local small businesses. With this investment, ayzh has been able to expand into low resource settings in Northern India, which is a prioritized region from improving RMNCH outcomes” Dr Amit Bhanot, Project Director, Ujjwal.
Building sustainable markets: the way forward
In 2016, the partnership will continue to co-create a sustainable market by building relationships with clinics and supplying an affordable and customised kit in high priority regions of the country’s Northern states. Ayzh are already active in supplying these maternal and newborn health solutions to Africa, Haiti, Honduras, Laos and Afghanistan. They have received several awards for their work, including MIT’s D-Lab Scale Up Fellowship project. JANMA: Clean Birth Kit in a Purse was chosen as one of the 61 global products designed to improve life by INDEX.
The “Improved Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services in India” (Project Ujjwal) is a part of the UK-Aid Framework for Results to improve reproductive, maternal and newborn health in the developing world. Ujjwal aims to reduce maternal deaths from unwanted pregnancies by increasing use of family planning (FP) methods, improving birth spacing practices and preventing unsafe abortions in Bihar and Odisha. Through the private sector, the project supports rapid scale-up of quality family planning (FP) services for the poor, young, low parity and socially excluded couples, women and men.