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PROGRESS technical area: Family planning within drug shops

  • Ghana
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Drug shops, known in some countries as chemist shops or patent medicine shops, are often the first source of medicine for many rural African communities. They provide promising solutions to the problem of poor access to family planning because they are privately owned and tend to support a sustainable commercial market for health products. However, because combined oral contraceptive pills and injectable contraceptives are classified as prescription drugs in many African countries, their distribution in drug shops is not always permitted. Expanding access to contraception through drug shops was an aim of the PROGRESS project’s research and research utilization efforts. Major accomplishments in this technical area include the following:

  • Research in Uganda [PDF, 260 KB], undertaken for the STRIDES project, monitored and evaluated the impact that family planning sales at drug shops can have on local contraceptive prevalence. As part of the research, drug shop owners in four districts were trained to offer injectable contraceptive services.

  • A study in Tanzania [PDF, 437 KB] showed that women coming to accredited drug dispensing outlets can self-screen for contraindications to combined oral contraceptive pills about as well as nurses can.

  • A study in Ghana [PDF, 969 KB] determined that sales of the injectable contraceptive depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) by licensed chemical sellers were safe and feasible. As a result, the Ministry of Health approved the licensed chemical sellers to continue selling DMPA at the study sites after the study ended.

  • PROGRESS and the World Health Organization supported a study in Nigeria examining the practices of patent medicine vendors in the sale of contraceptives. Results of the study [PDF, 317 KB] showed that most of the vendors who were interviewed provided family planning methods, and many provided injectable contraceptive services at the shops. More training is needed to improve the quality and safety of the services.

  • PROGRESS-supported research on drugs shops was incorporated into a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) High-Impact Practice brief on training and supporting pharmacists and drug-shop keepers to provide a range of family planning methods.

PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) was a five-year project awarded to FHI 360 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in June 2008. The project sought to improve access to family planning among underserved populations by providing global technical leadership and working in selected countries.

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