Lessons learnt from the introduction of the contraceptive implant in South Africa

S Afr Med J. 2017 Oct 1;107(11):933-938. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i11.12805.


In 2014, South Africa (SA) introduced the subdermal contraceptive implant with the aim of expanding the contraceptive method mix and availability of long-acting reversible methods in the public sector. Three years on, concerns have been raised about the decline in uptake, early implant removals and challenges in service delivery. This article explores the lessons learnt from the introduction of contraceptive technologies elsewhere and applies these to the SA context. Drawing on the World Health Organization’s conceptual framework for the introduction of new contraceptive methods, and subsequent literature on the topic, lessons are classified into six cross-cutting themes. Recommendations highlight the need for SA to review and explore strategies to strengthen current implant services, including the provision of improved provider training aimed at sensitive, client-centred approaches; increased community engagement; and improved systems for programmatic monitoring and evaluation. With implementation of these recommendations, worrying trends in the provision of implants could be reversed.

Keywords: Subdermal contraceptive implants; Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs); Quality of contraceptive care; South Africa; Rights; Family planning.

Publication types

  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Contraception* / instrumentation
  • Contraception* / statistics & numerical data
  • Device Removal / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Planning Services* / methods
  • Family Planning Services* / standards
  • Family Planning Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraception* / methods
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraception* / statistics & numerical data
  • Needs Assessment
  • Public Sector
  • Quality Improvement
  • South Africa