Introducing client-centered reproductive health services in a Pakistani setting

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Pakistan is a high-fertility country with elevated levels of maternal mortality and unmet need for family planning. Limited access to and poor quality of reproductive health services and gender-related problems comprise the major explanations for these poor indicators. The authors designed an intervention to address some of these issues and implemented it on a quasi-experimental basis in Bhalwal Tehsil of the Sargodha district of Punjab. The intervention introduced a client-centered approach to providing reproductive health services, including family planning and infant, child, and maternal health care. The intervention consisted of training health-care providers based in fixed-location clinics and in communities. It introduced the concept of SAHR (an acronym for salutation, assessment, help, and reassurance), to inculcate a client-centered approach to care that acknowledges explicitly and addresses a client's gender and power relations within her family and household. Results of the intervention indicate significant effects on providers' behavior related to SAHR elements. The changes provide demonstrable evidence that the public sector can shift toward client-centered services in reproductive health care in a challenging setting.