Background: Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is underused in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Many previous attempts to increase uptake of this important class of contraception have not been successful.
Study design: This program in Zambia employed 18 dedicated providers of LARC, placed them in high volume public sector facilities and collected routine, anonymous information over a 14-month period. We tallied uptake of LARC, analyzed user characteristics to see what populations were reached by the program and compared this to nationally representative data. We also estimated costs per couple-year of protection of the program.
Results: In a 14-month period, 33,609 clients chose either a subdermal implant (66%) or an intrauterine device (34%). The program reached a younger and lower parity population compared to nationally representative surveys of Zambian women using contraception. The estimated program costs, including the value of donated commodities, averaged $13.0 per couple-year of protection.
Conclusion: By having the necessary time, skills and materials - as well as a mandate to both generate informed demand and provide quality services - dedicated providers of LARC can expand contraceptive choice. This new approach shows what can be achieved in a short period and in a region of the world where uptake of LARC is limited.
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