Introduction of subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC) injectable contraception at facility and community levels: Pilot results from 4 districts of Uganda

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), a local NGO, introduced subcutaneous depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA-SC, brand name Sayana Press) in 4 districts of Uganda between April 2016 and March 2017. RHU trained public and private facility providers on all family planning methods including DMPA-SC; trained community health workers (known as village health teams, VHTs) to give family planning counseling, provide short-acting methods including DMPA-SC, and make referrals for long-acting and permanent methods; conducted mobile outreach and raised awareness of family planning; and provided family planning commodities. We used a retrospective cross-sectional evaluation design drawing on data from (1) in-depth interviews with 32 facility- and community-based providers; (2) key informant interviews with 7 policy makers and program staff; and (3) family planning program statistics from 4 RHU clinics, 26 mobile outreach sites, and 40 VHTs in 4 study districts. Data collection took place between April and June 2017. Over 12 months, 14,273 units of DMPA-SC were provided in RHU clinics, by mobile outreach teams, and by VHTs. DMPA-SC units were mostly administered in community settings either by VHTs (70%) or at mobile outreach events (26%). A substantial proportion (43%) of DMPA-SC units were administered to young people ( < 25 years), a significantly higher proportion compared with other methods provided to this age group through the project (P < .001), except condoms. In addition, a greater proportion of DMPA-SC units provided at the community level by VHTs were used by young people (45%) compared with units provided at outreach (36%) or in clinics (35%). Overall, injectables (DMPA-SC and intramuscular DMPA combined) came to represent 43% of all contraceptive methods provided, up from a baseline of 20%. This shift occurred despite significant increases in the volume of all other methods provided (P < .001). Qualitative data revealed various factors that facilitated introduction, including comprehensive training, commodity availability, strong referral links, and early community engagement. RHU's experience supports the viability of community-based delivery of DMPA-SC and identifies opportunities to strengthen this approach. There is further evidence that DMPA-SC may be popular with young people, especially in community settings.