Global Health: Science and Practice, 2018, Vol.6(3), p.473-483
In the 10 countries surveyed, the availability of oral contraceptives, injectables, and condoms varied greatly, and the availability of basic items indicating service readiness, such as guidelines, trained staff, equipment, and certain commodities, was low. In the 10 countries surveyed, the availability of oral contraceptives, injectables, and condoms varied greatly, and the availability of basic items indicating service readiness, such as guidelines, trained staff, equipment, and certain commodities, was low. Background: Access to family planning services and appropriate contraceptive methods is crucial for ensuring good health outcomes for women and adolescent girls. The World Health Organization worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop the Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) survey to measure health facility capacity to provide end users with appropriate, high-quality health care. In this study, we looked at the service availability and readiness of health facilities to provide contraception in 10 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. Methods: This study compared SARA survey data on family planning services from each of the 10 countries. We conducted a descriptive analysis of variations in facility readiness and the availability of services, contraceptive methods, trained staff, family planning guidelines, and basic health care equipment. Results: Overall, many of the countries surveyed had a relatively high availability of at least 1 contraceptive method. Rural facilities tended to have more availability of contraception than urban facilities, and government facilities tended to have higher availability of family planning than other providers. The countries differed in their particular dominant contraceptive method, and stock-outs of contraceptive methods were observed. Countries had overall low levels of all 6 tracer items (availability of family planning guidelines, staff trained in family planning, blood pressure apparatuses, combined oral contraceptive, injectable contraceptives, and male condoms on the day of the assessment), indicating low health system readiness. There were discrepancies between reported and observed availability of blood pressure apparatuses and family planning guides and having at least 1 staff member trained to use these tools. In all countries, unmarried adolescents appeared to have less access to family planning than the general population. Conclusion: Stock-outs and logistics management problems were common among the countries surveyed. Critical gaps between reported and actual availability of products and services often makes it difficult for end users to access appropriate family planning methods. To address many of the issues, additional health worker training is needed and more effort to target and support adolescents should be undertaken. To achieve universal health coverage targets for family planning, gaps in the availability and readiness of health systems to provide contraceptive products and services must be reduced.
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