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Accelerating Young People’s Access to Contraceptive Services

Engaging Pharmacies in Mombasa County, Kenya

Pharmacies play a critical role in providing access to reproductive health services in low-resource settings in Kenya. Without this private-sector resource, the country would not be able to meet the needs of its young people. Kenya’s National Family Planning Guidelines for Service Providers allow pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists to counsel, dispense, and provide condoms, pills, and injectables. This access is critical to the health and well-being of youths and the overall achievement of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals.

Pharmacies play a critical role in providing access to reproductive health services in low-resource settings. Various studies show that many young people receive contraceptive services from pharmacies as they are the community’s most accessible and affordable outlets.

National Family Planning Guidelines for Service Providers“When we talk about the need to increase access to contraceptives, we know the reality. The reality is without the private sector, we will not be able to meet the needs of young people, for about 80% of health care facilities here are privately owned, with the majority being pharmacies,” says Mwanakarama Athman, Mombasa County’s reproductive health coordinator.

Kenya’s National Family Planning Guidelines for Service Providers allow pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists to counsel, dispense, and provide condoms, pills, and injectables. Access to sexual and reproductive health services for youth is critical to their health and well-being and the overall achievement of the goals laid out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Working with Pharmacies to Strengthen Service Delivery

The Challenge Initiative (TCI), through a partnership with Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) and Mombasa County, worked to strengthen the capacity of health care providers in pharmacies to provide quality contraceptive services to the urban youth. This partnership delivered tangible benefits for young people.

A mobile clinic. Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

The 50 pharmacies initially recruited in the program served over 20,136 young people between June 2019 and May 2021.

The successes registered in the program’s pilot phase inspired other pharmacies that requested to be included in the program. Twenty-nine additional pharmacies were added to the agenda.

Mwanakarama notes that partnerships between public health systems and the private sector improve health outcomes by increasing reach and service for all people. The availability of reliable data enhances this.

The Importance of Data

Community health worker supported by APHRC. Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

Mwanakarama argues that data has the potential to inform more equitable policies, streamline decision-making, and bridge gaps in the delivery of health care services. “The way data is visualized and used can make the difference between interesting information and information that saves lives.”

Dr. David Miller, the chairperson of the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association Mombasa chapter, argues that while metrics to measure the uptake of family planning services only focused on public or private health care facilities, those efforts could not effectively capture the work done with the pharmacies.

The Impact Registered

In October 2019, pharmacies in Mombasa County began record-keeping at their sites. The county program implementation teams provided hands-on data entry and quality control training.

Management of commodities. Credit: Brant Stewart, RTI

Credit: Brant Stewart, RTI

Dr. Miller says that KPA also worked with the pharmacies to review filing systems and instituted more efficient data management practices.

Between April and June 2020, KPA supported the pharmacies’ data entry and records management staff to conduct a data validation and cleaning exercise to update data reported from all 50 pharmacies.

Mwanakarama notes that pharmacies are now able to report data to the government health system. A unique identification code for pharmacies was created to enable them to enter data into the health information management system. Thus, previously non-existent data from local communities where pharmacies operate is now available.

Members of a Youth to Youth group. Credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment
Levis Otondi

County Manager, Jhpiego Kenya

Levis is a seasoned health systems-strengthening advocate supporting county governments in Kenya in designing and implementing FP/AYSRH high-impact practices. He is a certified Public Health Practitioner and he is a member of the Association of Public Health Officers of Kenya. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Health and is currently pursuing a postgraduate Master of Science in Public Health degree at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi. He has substantial experience in global health programming, design, implementation, and public health research. Levis has been previously involved in offering technical support in RMNCAH, HIV/AIDS, and non-communicable diseases projects. Previously, he worked with FHI 360 under the HIV prevention project and AMREF’s Maternal Health Program.

Morine Lucy Sirera

Program Manager, The Challenge Initiative

Morine Lucy Sirera is a program manager with over 10 years of experience and knowledge in program planning, designing, and implementation. In her work, she has a key focus on supporting the implementation of adolescent and youth reproductive health (AYRH) and FP high-impact interventions among urban populations. She has worked to find innovative and scalable ways of increasing young people's access to contraceptives in an effort to reduce teenage pregnancies as well as provide avenues to allow young people to make informed choices for their future. She has also worked with very young adolescents (VYA) in urban informal settlements within Nairobi to promote age-appropriate life skills education, providing them an opportunity to safeguard their future. Morine currently works with The Challenge Initiative (Tupange Pamoja) in Kenya supporting thirteen counties in the scale-up of sustainable proven approaches to reach out to adolescents and youth and the community at large to support the reduction of teenage pregnancies in the country. Morine is a Global Health Leadership accelerator graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and International Relations from the University of the West of England Bristol and a master’s degree in International Security from the University of Bristol UK.

Njeri Mbugua

Communications and Advocacy Advisor , The Challenge Initiative

Njeri Mbugua is a communication and marketing strategist with over 10 years of experience working with a range of profit and not-for-profit organizations. Currently, she is the Communications and Advocacy Advisor for the Jhpiego-implemented The Challenge Initiative (TCI). She brings extensive experience in engaging the voices of various stakeholders in shaping health interventions to reduce barriers to health information, products, and services. She is a multi-faceted professional with strong expertise in program management, knowledge management, and health communication. During her career, she has assisted government counterparts with the development and launch of strategic advocacy plans for reproductive health and mHealth and gender. Njeri’s ultimate goal is to ensure she is able to articulate a distinct voice to bring about greater autonomy and dignity that will transform the lives of young girls and women.

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