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Acceptability of the distribution of DMPA-SC by community health workers among acceptors in the rural province of Lualaba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a pilot study

The objective of this research is to assess the acceptability of the provision of subcutaneously administered depo medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC) by nonclinically trained community health workers (CHWs) among acceptors in the rural province of Lualaba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).In 2017, 34 CHWs received training in provision of DMPA-SC. Among other methods, DMPA-SC by CHWs was offered during household visits and at community outreach events. The initial survey included questions on acceptors’ demographic characteristics, contraceptive use history and experience with provision of DMPA-SC by a CHW. The follow-up included questions about side effects experienced and continuation of DMPA-SC by a CHW. Seventy-four percent of initial acceptors of DMPA-SC (N=252) were first-time contraception users. Almost all (96.0%) felt very comfortable with a CHW performing the injection rather than a physician or nurse, and 97.6% perceived that the CHW was very comfortable performing the injection. A total of 239 women were interviewed at follow-up. Most expressed satisfaction with the method despite some side effects experienced. Almost all acceptors (97.9%) were satisfied with the information provided by CHWs, and 93.8% were satisfied with the overall service. Most (96.4%) would choose to continue receiving DMPA-SC by a CHW rather than in a health clinic, and 95.2% would recommend DMPA-SC by a CHW to a friend. Overall, administration of DMPA-SC by CHWs is acceptable to users in Lualaba. DMPA-SC can be safely provided within the community after proper training. This study validates the use of CHWs (without clinical training) to provide DMPA-SC in a rural sub-Saharan African setting. It also represents an important step in obtaining official MOH authorization for the scale-up of this mechanism of distribution to other underserved regions in the DRC.

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