Benin, a small, peaceful, francophone West African country of 11 million people, historically has had low levels of family planning use. Current modern-method contraceptive prevalence (mCPR) is low, at 16.1 percent, and unmet need, at 36.3 percent, is high1. Recent data indicate that many women desire to limit or space births but are not currently using family planning.
The Government of Benin has indicated strong commitment to improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes. In 2013, Benin pledged to increase the mCPR from 7.9 percent to 20 percent by 2018. At the 2017 London Summit on Family Planning, Benin, encouraged by steady growth, renewed its commitment by pledging to achieve an mCPR of 22 percent by 2020. The Government is also facilitating, on an accelerated schedule, the introduction of Sayana Press®, a small, easy-to-use, prefilled, three-month injectable contraceptive that is expanding the contraceptive method mix and will help Benin achieve its mCPR goal.
In May 2016, relais communautaires, the lowest cadre of community health workers, began introducing Sayana Press. To date, more than 350 relais communautaires have been trained and Sayana Press has been rolled out in three health zones: Abomey Calavi, DCO, and Kandi. Scale up to Benin’s remaining 24 health zones will follow in phases over the next two years.
In the three months since introduction, more than 450 women have received Sayana Press injections. The response to this newly available method has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients cite ease of use, the short needle, and the three-month duration as the primary reasons for choosing Sayana Press.
Expanding a country’s contraceptive method mix is no small task. The process has been led by the Ministry of Health (MOH), with technical assistance provided by several USAID-funded projects and local partners. Technical leadership, coordination, and health worker training is provided by the USAID-supported Advancing Partners & Communities project. The process is unique in that Sayana Press is being introduced through the existing MOH infrastructure, rather than parallel supply chains, allowing for a more sustainable, country-led service delivery channel.
On September 26, World Contraception Day 2017, the Beninese Ministry of Health will formally launch Sayana Press. This event will acknowledge Sayana Press as a fully registered contraceptive choice in Benin. The event will inform the national media and policymakers about Sayana Press and celebrate the preliminary success of the rollout.
Given the enthusiastic response from clients, service providers, and policymakers, Sayana Press has the potential to revolutionize contraceptive use in Benin. In any case, Benin is well on its way to achieving its mCPR goal of 22 percent by 2020.
To learn more about the Sayana Press introduction in Benin or the APC project, please visit www.advancingpartners.org.
1 2015–2016 FP2020 Progress Report: Momentum at the Midpoint.
*Tishina Okegbe is a Senior Technical Officer at FHI 360.