The first global health conference on social marketing (SM) and social franchising (SF) that began here on Tuesday saw experts calling to scale up the use of these tools to address a wider gamut of health challenges in India, instead of limiting them to just family planning.
In her address at the inaugural session, Anuradha Gupta, additional secretary and mission director of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in the union health and family welfare ministry, said India was a pioneer in SM in the health sector.
"But we have not been able to take it to the second level. It is mostly confined to family planning and marketing of contraceptives," she said.
Experts in healthcare and allied areas from 25 countries are taking part in the three-day meet, the "Global Health Conference on Social Marketing and Franchising", organised by HLFPPT, a not-for-profit trust promoted by the mini-Ratna central public sector enterprise HLL Lifecare Ltd, with the support of the ministry, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, HLL and National AIDS Control Organisation.
Explaining the need to diversify SM and SF initiatives, Gupta said it was important to contain maternal and child mortality in the country.
Speaking on "The Social Marketing of Contraceptives and its impact on World Fertility Trend", Philip D Harvey, president of DKT International (a non-profit organisation that designs and operates social marketing and clinical programs for family planning and AIDS prevention in developing countries), said social marketing programmes have been serving 66 million couples across 67 countries in the world.
"SM is cost-effective and a bridge to self-sufficiency. In SM, contraceptives are sold and not given away. SM is mostly products and SF is mostly about providing services," he said.
M Ayyapan, chairman and managing director of HLL Lifecare Ltd, said the initiatives to provide infrastructure for population stabilisation is like the hardware of a computer system.
"The real challenge is the development of the software - to make people believe and accept the need for change or transformation. This is where the role of SM in changing the behaviour of people becomes significant," said Ayyapan.