Purpose: To identify and assess factors determining the functioning of supply chain systems for modern contraception in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and to identify challenges contributing to contraception stockouts that may lead to unmet need.
Materials and methods: Scientific databases and grey literature were searched including Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE), PubMed, MEDLINE, POPLINE, CINAHL, Academic Search Complete, Science Direct, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, Google Scholar, WHO databases and websites of key international organisations.
Results: Studies indicated that supply chain system inefficiencies significantly affect availability of modern FP and contraception commodities in LMICs, especially in rural public facilities where distribution barriers may be acute. Supply chain failures or bottlenecks may be attributed to: weak and poorly institutionalized logistic management information systems (LMIS), poor physical infrastructures in LMICs, lack of trained and dedicated staff for supply chain management, inadequate funding, and rigid government policies on task sharing. However, there is evidence that implementing effective LMISs and involving public and private providers will distribution channels resulted in reduction in medical commodities' stockout rates.
Conclusions: Supply chain bottlenecks contribute significantly to persistent high stockout rates for modern contraceptives in LMICs. Interventions aimed at enhancing uptake of contraceptives to reduce the problem of unmet need in LMICs should make strong commitments towards strengthening these countries' health commodities supply chain management systems. Current evidence is limited and additional, and well-designed implementation research on contraception supply chain systems is warranted to gain further understanding and insights on the determinants of supply chain bottlenecks and their impact on stockouts of contraception commodities.
Keywords: Contraceptive supply chains; developing countries; logistics; unmet need.