Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Provision of injectable contraceptives in Ethiopia through community-based reproductive health agents

Ndola Prata, Amanuel Gessessew, Alice Cartwright & Ashley Fraser

Objective

To determine whether community-based health workers in a rural region of Ethiopia can provide injectable contraceptives to women with similar levels of safety, effectiveness and acceptability as health extension workers (HEWs).

Methods

This was a prospective non-randomized community intervention trial designed to test the provision of injectable contraceptives by community-based reproductive health agents (CBRHAs). Effectiveness, safety, acceptability and continuation rates were the outcomes of interest. The outcomes observed when injectable contraceptives were administered by HEWs in health posts and when they were administered by CBRHAs were compared by means of χ2 tests for association among categorical variables and t-tests for independent samples to determine differences between group means.

Findings

A total of 1062 women participated in the study. Compared with health post clients, the clients of CBRHAs were, on average, slightly older, less likely to be married and less educated, and they had significantly more living children. Women seeking services from CBRHAs were also significantly more likely to be using injectable contraceptives for the first time; health post clients were more likely to have used them in the past. In addition, clients of CBRHAs were less likely to discontinue using injectable contraceptives over three injection cycles than health post clients.

Conclusion

Receiving injectable contraceptives from CBRHAs proved as safe and acceptable to this sample of Ethiopian women as receiving them in health posts from HEWs. These findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the development, introduction and scale up of programmes to train community-based health workers such as CBRHAs to safely administer injectable contraceptives.