During the month of May, IMPACT will be highlighting USAID’s work in Global Health. This week we are focusing on family planning. 

The women are about 25 to 30 years old. They’re married with two, or as many as nine, children. They’re tired. They may have miscarried, more than once. They want a break.

This is how community health workers in Senegal describe the women who visit village health huts for family planning. “Some are educated and some are not,” one health worker said, “but they are smart. They worry about the health consequences of multiple pregnancies.”

Small, light, and easy to use, Sayana Press is well-suited for community health workers. Credit: PATH/Patrick McKern

These women know what they want: the chance to choose an effective family planning method that meets the reality of their lives.

When convenience and privacy are important

For many women, injectable contraceptives have tremendous advantages: one shot of the popular Depo-Provera® protects for three months. It is safe and effective, with almost no risk of unintended pregnancy.

Injectables have other advantages—with no pills to take daily, they are discreet. “This is a small village,” explained another Senegalese health worker. “Everyone knows what everyone else is doing.”

Partnering to reach more women

Depo-Provera is very popular in sub-Saharan Africa and has great potential to reach millions more women. In Senegal, injectables not only account for one-third of contraceptives used—one-third of women who intend to use family planning say they’d prefer injectables, too.

Typically, trained health workers give the injections in clinics, so women in remote villages have to travel long distances to get them. To quote one more health worker: “Sometimes, having to go all the way to the health clinic is enough to discourage women from doing family planning.”

A new initiative announced at the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012 aims to address this gap in access. USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DFID, UNFPA, and PATH will bring up to 12 million doses of a new form of Depo-Provera, called Sayana® Press, to women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

A new form of Depo-Provera goes remote

Sayana Press is packaged in the Uniject™ autodisable injection system—each prefilled dose is administered in the abdomen, upper thigh, or upper arm. Small, light, and easy to use, the system is well-suited for community health workers.

USAID, PATH, and our partners are engaging countries interested in piloting the method and learning if and how it could enhance their family planning programs. We’ll be collaborating with ministries of health to introduce Sayana Press, aiming to achieve their goals for increasing access to family planning and meeting women’s needs. We will rigorously evaluate the product’s impact on contraceptive use and costs so that donors and governments have the information they need to make future decisions about use of Sayana Press.

Health worker quotes are from a Sayana Press acceptability study conducted by FHI 360 with support from the USAID PROGRESS project and PATH.

Sayana Press and Depo-Provera are registered trademarks of Pfizer, Inc. Uniject is a trademark of BD.

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