In a variety of ways that suit their contexts, countries around the world have adapted international guidance on providing family planning care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracking the extent to which these new policies are successful in maintaining women’s access to safe, high-quality care will provide valuable lessons for responses to future public health emergencies.
The chronicle of Malawi’s rapid, efficient introduction of self-injected subcutaneous DMPA (DMPA-SC) into the method mix is a model of teamwork and coordination. Although this process typically takes about 10 years, Malawi achieved it in fewer than three. Self-injected DMPA-SC epitomizes the ideal of self-care by empowering women to learn how to inject themselves, and has the added benefit of helping clients avoid busy clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Studies have shown that men are highly influential in couples’ decisions about family planning (FP) and that their engagement in FP and other health services can be beneficial to their partners, their children, and themselves. However, in many countries, deeply embedded ideas about appropriate gender roles, as well as myths and misconceptions about FP, create barriers to men’s support for and participation in FP services.