Improving access to family planning services through community pharmacies: Experience from The Challenge Initiative in three counties in Kenya

Front Glob Womens Health. 2023 Apr 24:4:1060832. doi: 10.3389/fgwh.2023.1060832. eCollection 2023.


Pharmacies play a vital role in improving access to family planning (FP) services in urban areas. They complement the resource-limited public health system and are viewed as key access points for contraceptives among young people (10-24 years) and the general population. The Challenge Initiative East Africa (TCI EA), in collaboration with the health management teams of Mombasa, Kilifi, and the Nairobi counties in Kenya and the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) piloted an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) engagement to improve access to quality FP services offered at pharmacies in urban areas. The pilot project built the capacity of pharmacists, strengthened the referral system to public health facilities, and made FP data accessible and visible to drive informed decision-making. This paper describes the strategies employed and the outcomes. The initiative targeted 150 pharmacies across the three counties from June 2019 to December 2020 period. Our assessment shows that this intervention delivered FP commodities to 43,632 FP client visits; 71% for female clients and 21% for males. Adjusting for couple years of protection and seasonality, this translates to about 2,800 annual FP clients obtaining modern contraception in a 12-month period, including 48% injectables, 25% oral contraception, 24% emergency contraception, and 3% condoms. The majority of clients (75%) were older than 24 years, 21% were 20-24 years, 3% were 15-19 years, and 1% were less than 15 years. In addition, 327 clients were referred to a public sector facility for other methods. This intervention demonstrates the potential of pharmacies in contributing to FP uptake and provides a framework for improving access to quality FP services by pharmacies. There is potential to scale such an approach beyond the 3 counties, given the involvement and reach of KPA and the Ministry of Health (MoH) health management teams.

Keywords: Kenya; The Challenge Initiative; family planning (FP); improving access to care; pharmacies and drug stores.

Grants and funding

The effort was part of the public-private partnership engagement to improve access to quality FP services implemented through The Challenge Initiative, East Africa Hub. The program efforts described in this manuscript were not funded separately but rather as part of the program funds by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1145051). Bayer AG (JHU Grant No. 123709), Comic Relief (JHU Grant No. 4581036), and coordinated through the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute of Population and RH at Johns Hopkins University. Bayer AG was not involved in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, the writing of this article or the decision to submit it for publication.