Subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC) is an innovative contraceptive method aimed at meeting women’s unique circumstances and needs, largely due to its ability to be self-injected. Substantial research and advocacy investments have been made to promote roll-out of DMPA-SC across sub-Saharan Africa. To date, research on the demand for DMPA-SC as a self-injectable method has been conducted largely with healthcare providers, via qualitative research, or with highly specific subsamples that are not population based. Using three recent rounds of data from Performance Monitoring for Action, we examined population-representative trends in demand, use, and preference for self-injection among current non-users in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa and Kongo Central regions), Kenya, and Nigeria (Lagos and Kano States). We found that while over 80.0% of women had heard of injectables across settings, few women had heard of self-injection (ranging from 13.0% in Kenya to 24.8% in Burkina Faso). Despite initial increases in DMPA-SC prevalence, DMPA-SC usage began to stagnate or even decrease in all settings in the recent three years (except in Nigeria-Kano). Few (0.0%–16.7%) current DMPA-SC users were self-injecting, and the majority instead were relying on a healthcare provider for administration of DMPA-SC. Among current contraceptive non-users wishing to use an injectable in the future, only 1.5%–11.4% preferred to self-inject. Our results show that self-injection is uncommon, and demand for self-injection is very limited across six settings, calling for further qualitative and quantitative research on women’s views on DMPA-SC and self-injection and, ultimately, their contraceptive preferences and needs.
This article compares results from interviews with DMPA-SC providers in two separate pilot studies: 1) 53 medical and nursing school students teaching women how to self-inject (2016–2017); and 2) 34 lay community health workers providing DMPA-SC in rural areas of Lualaba (2017). All providers gave information on socio-demographic characteristics, recruitment,) training, supervision, experience and satisfaction with the provision of DMPA-SC. The paper examines variations in responses from the different provider cadres.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Ministry of Health authorizes only physicians and nurses to give injections, with one exception-medical and nursing students may also give injections if supervised by a clinical instructor. The emergence of the injectable contraceptive Sayana Press in some African countries prompted the DRC to test the acceptability and feasibility of distributing Sayana Press and other contraceptive methods at the community level through medical and nursing students. Sayana Press is similar in formulation to the injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera but contains a lower dose and is administered subcutaneously using a single-use syringe with a short needle called the Uniject system. The Uniject system allows Sayana Press to be administered by community health workers without clinical training or by self-injection. In this pilot, the advocacy objective was to obtain approval from the Ministry of Health to allow medical and nursing students to inject Sayana Press, as a first step toward authorization for community health workers to provide the method. The pilot described in this article documents a process whereby an innovative approach moved from concept to implementation to replication in less than 2 years. It also paved the way for testing additional progressive strategies to increase access to contraception at the community level. Because the pilot project included a research component designed to assess benefits and challenges, it provided the means to introduce the new task-shifting approach, which might not have been approved otherwise. Key pilot activities included: (1) increasing awareness of Sayana Press among family planning stakeholders at a national conference on family planning, (2) enlisting the support of key decision makers in designing the pilot, (3) obtaining marketing authorization to distribute Sayana Press in the DRC, (4) implementing the pilot from July to December 2015, (5) conducting quantitative and qualitative studies to assess acceptability and feasibility, and (6) disseminating the findings to family planning stakeholders. Before the pilot, Sayana Press was relatively unknown in the DRC, and there was no precedent for medical and nursing students providing family planning methods or giving injections at the community level. In less than 12 months, the approach gained legitimacy and acceptance. The key Ministry of Health decision maker orchestrated the closing session of the dissemination meeting on next steps, paving the way for pilot tests of 3 new task-shifting approaches: insertion of Implanon NXT by medical and nursing students, self-injection for Sayana Press with supervision by students, and injection of Sayana Press by community health workers with no formal clinical training.