Background: Understanding the sources of contraceptive commodities is an important aspect of the delivery of family planning services and is required by planning programme managers for strategic planning purposes. Findings from the 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey have previously showed that the private sector was the most frequently reported source of contraceptive supply, providing contraception to two and a half times as many women as the public sector. We conducted a community-based study to examine further the sources of contraceptive commodity for users in Nigeria with a view to identifying their preferences for distribution centres. This information would be useful to improve commodity distribution and to build the necessary capacity for satisfactory delivery of contraceptives.
Methods and findings: A multi-stage random sampling technique was used. A state was randomly selected to represent each of the four health zones in Nigeria. Two local government areas (LGAs) were then selected representing both urban and rural areas. Ten enumeration areas were subsequently selected from each LGA. Of the 2,001 respondents aged 15-49 years, 1,647 (82.3%) were sexually active, out of which 244 were found to be using contraceptive methods at the time of the study, giving a contraceptive prevalence of 14.8%. The commonest source of information on contraceptives was through friends (34%), followed by the radio (11.5%) and husbands (10.2%). Most respondents procured their contraceptives from chemist/patent medicine shops (19.7%), while only 0.8% obtained them from designated family planning clinics. The younger groups in this study (15-24 years), single people, Catholics, and Muslims, showed a greater preference for chemist/patent medicine shops for their sources of contraceptives. The older groups and married respondents, however, made use of government and private hospitals to obtain their contraceptives.
Conclusion: Strategies to increase contraceptive use must take into consideration these identified sources of contraceptives with a view to enhancing the quality, quantity, and variety of methods available, and to building capacity for effective service delivery. There is also a need to encourage the establishment of adolescent-friendly clinics where young people can go for counselling and obtain contraceptives of their choice, including emergency contraceptive pills.