Expanding Access to the Intrauterine Device in Public Health Facilities in Ethiopia: A Mixed-Methods Study

Type Journal Article - Global Health: Science and Practice
Title Expanding Access to the Intrauterine Device in Public Health Facilities in Ethiopia: A Mixed-Methods Study
Volume 4
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 16-28
URL http://www.ghspjournal.org/content/4/1/16.full
In Ethiopia, modern contraceptive prevalence among currently married women nearly tripled over the last decade, but the method mix remains skewed toward short-acting methods. Since 2011, the Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP+), jointly implemented by Pathfinder International and John Snow Inc., has supported the Federal Ministry of Health to introduce intrauterine devices (IUDs) in more than 800 health centers across 4 regions to improve access to a wider range of methods. Between March and August 2014, Pathfinder conducted a mixed-methods study in 40 purposively selected health centers to assess shifts in the contraceptive method mix following introduction of IUDs using data from family planning registers; determine the characteristics of IUD users through a cross-sectional survey of 2,943 family planning clients who accepted the IUD; explore reasons for method discontinuation among 165 clients seeking IUD removal services; and identify facilitators and barriers to IUD use through focus group discussions (N?=?115 clients) and key informant interviews (N?=?36 providers, facility heads, and health office heads). Introduction of IUDs into the 40 health centers participating in the study was correlated with a statistically significant increase in the contribution of all long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)—both IUDs and implants—to the method mix, from 6.9% in 2011 to 20.5% in 2014 (P<.001). Our study found that latent demand for the IUD was more prevalent than anticipated and that the method was acceptable to a broad cross-section of women. Of the 2,943 women who sought IUDs during the 6-month study period, 18.0% were new contraceptive users (i.e., those using a contraceptive method for the first time ever), 44.7% reported no educational attainment, 62.5% were from rural areas, and 59.3% were younger than 30 years old, with almost 3 in 10 (27.7%) under the age of 25. The most commonly cited reason for seeking IUD removal services was a desire to become pregnant (43% of women). Qualitative data indicated that while acceptability of the method is growing, limited community awareness, myths and misconceptions about the IUD, and infrastructure deficits at health centers must be addressed to further expand access to a broad range of contraceptive methods.

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