Background: The Family Planning 2020 initiative aims to reach 120 million new family planning users by 2020. Drug shops and pharmacies are important private-sector sources of contraception in many contexts but are less well understood than public-sector sources, especially in urban environments. This article explores the role that drug shops and pharmacies play in the provision of contraceptive methods in selected urban areas of Nigeria and Kenya as well as factors associated with women’s choice of where to obtain these methods.
Methods: Using data collected in 2010/2011 from representative samples of women in selected urban areas of Nigeria and Kenya as well as a census of pharmacies and drug shops audited in 2011, we examine the role of drug shops and pharmacies in the provision of short-acting contraceptive methods and factors associated with a women’s choice of family planning source.
Results: In urban Nigeria and Kenya, drug shops and pharmacies were the major source for the family planning methods of oral contraceptive pills, emergency contraceptives, and condoms. The majority of injectable users obtained their method from public facilities in both countries, but 14% of women in Nigeria and 6% in Kenya obtained injectables from drug shops or pharmacies. Harder-to-reach populations were the most likely to choose these outlets to obtain their short-acting methods. For example, among users of these methods in Nigeria, younger women (<25 years old) were significantly more likely to obtain their method from a drug shop or pharmacy than another type of facility. In both countries, family planning users who had never been married were significantly more likely than married users to obtain these methods from a drug shop or a pharmacy than from a public-sector health facility. Low levels of family planning-related training (57% of providers in Kenya and 41% in Nigeria had received training) and lack of family planning promotional activities in pharmacies and drug shops in both countries indicate the need for additional support from family planning programs to leverage this important access point.
Conclusions: Drug shops and pharmacies offer an important and under-leveraged mechanism for expanding family planning access to women in urban Nigeria and Kenya, and potentially elsewhere. Vulnerable and harder-to-reach groups such as younger, unmarried women and women who do not yet have children are the most likely to benefit from increased access to family planning at drug shops and pharmacies.
Progestin-only contraceptive injectables and implants are highly effective, longer-acting contraceptive methods that can be used by most women in most circumstances. Globally, 6% of women using modern contraception use injectables and 1% use implants. Injectables are the predominant contraceptive method used in sub-Saharan Africa, and account for 43% of modern contraceptive methods used. A lower-dose, subcutaneous formulation of the most widely used injectable, depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate, has been developed. Implants have the highest effectiveness of any contraceptive method. Commodity cost, which historically limited implant availability in low-resource countries, was markedly lowered between 2012 and 2013. Changes in menstrual bleeding patterns are extremely common with both methods, and a main cause of discontinuation. Advice from normative bodies differs on progestin-only contraceptive use by breastfeeding women 0–6 weeks postpartum. Whether these methods are associated with HIV acquisition is a controversial issue, with important implications for sub-Saharan Africa, which has a disproportionate burden of both human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and maternal mortality.