Contraceptive consumption in Kenya cut by Covid

By |2020-11-16T12:55:04-08:00November 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Among the many indirect impacts that Covid-19 has had on healthcare services, it’s been reported that many women across the globe have lost access to contraceptives this year, due to issues including lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. We looked at Maisha Meds point of sale data to explore the impact of Covid-19 on Kenyan women’s contraceptive options and concluded that there was a sudden and significant disruption in sales of contraceptives in April 2020. Sales returned to normal levels by June and Covid-19 does not appear to have had long term effects on demand, prices, or brands sold in the market. Across Eastern Africa, 42% of women who want to avoid pregnancy have an unmet need for contraception, and 46% of pregnancies are unintended. Previous public health programs have been successful at ensuring widespread access to products like vaccines, oral rehydration salts, and bed nets. However, for reproductive health products, widespread public sector stock-outs combined with limited availability of long-acting reversible contraceptives in the private sector make access a significant challenge for women. What happened at pharmacies in Kenya? Many reproductive health services are provided by public health centres and through organizations like Marie Stopes International, but contraceptives are also purchased at private pharmacies. Maisha Meds provides a digital point of sale solution to over 300 pharmacies in Kenya that allows us to view trends in the market. We looked at our data to see if internationally reported issues around contraceptive access could be seen in pharmacy dispensing patterns within our network.  In general, emergency contraception pills (Levonorgestrel), also called Plan B or the morning after pill, are sold more often than longer term forms of contraception like oral contraceptive pills and injectables (Depo shots, Sayana Press) in small to medium pharmacies in Kenya. Condoms are frequently sold as well, at a rate slightly lower than the emergency pill. As they can be purchased at many other places, pharmacy sales may be less reflective of overall condom sale trends.  Reproductive health sales breakdown 2020 Contraceptive sales dropped in April by one quarter Emergency contraception patient visits dropped by 26% from March to April 2020 at pharmacies in Maisha Meds’ network. While March 2020 saw around 4300 people purchasing the emergency pill at our pharmacies, this dropped to around 3200 in the following month. This was partially due to reduced sales at each pharmacy on average, and partially due to pharmacy closures.   Total emergency pill patient visits; overall sales are increasing over time as our pharmacy network grows. The drop in sales is likely due to Covid-19 related restrictions implemented by the Kenyan government in March and April. Sales gradually increased through May and June, and returned to early 2020 levels by July. There don’t appear to be long term changes to sales patterns, however it is possible that supply chain disruptions could have longer term impacts. A similar pattern occurred with condom sales in pharmacies, which dropped 26%, or 1000 patient visits, from March to April across pharmacies.  [...]