Glob Health Sci Pract. 2016 Dec 28;4(4):594-609. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-16-00197.

Key role of drug shops and pharmacies for family planning in urban Nigeria and Kenya

Corroon M, Kebede E, Spektor G and Speizer I

Abstract

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.

Conclusion: 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.

Comment: Easy access to reliable family planning methods is a major goal of many reproductive health programs. It is a common belief that those products can only be prescribed or advised by doctors, nurses, midwives or other health care providers. Although these professionals can play an important role in advice and follow-up, a program can also be successful without them: the present methods are so safe and effective that if a qualified health care provider is not available, drug shops and pharmacies can play a role as well. (HMV)