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Addressing Unmet Need for Family Planning Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

In line with Zambia's Family Planning Scale Up Plan (2016-2020), which aims to increase the national contraceptive prevalence from 33% to 58% and reduce unmet need for Family Planning from 22% to 14% by the year 2020, the Government of Zambia with support from UNFPA and other partners, has invested in key strategies to expand access to modern methods of contraception, including through the countrywide roll-out of subcutaneous Depot Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (DMPA-SC) self-injection to reach marginalized and hard to reach populations, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florence*, a midwife at the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia, shares how participation in a capacity building initiative in the use of DMPA-SC self-injection expanded her capacities and enabled her to provide a method-mix of contraception to users in hard to reach communities.

“After participating in the trainings, I begun applying my new skills by undertaking community outreach - sensitising women and men on the benefits of DPMA-SC. Initially, family planning users were not very keen on self-injecting, with many citing injectable contraceptives as ideally the responsibility of health care workers. However, after a series of sustained awareness raising, many users begun understanding the benefits of the self-injecting method, especially during COVID-19 restriction of movements and/or where non-essential visits to health facilities discouraged clients from visiting health facilities. More importantly, many clients were happy about the ability to take full control of the administration of injectable contraception” she says.

As part of its support to the Government of Zambia as well as partners, UNFPA continues to invest in capacity building of health workers like Florence*, who play a critical role towards ending unmet need for family planning in Zambia. In 2020, a total of 84,447 additional users of modern contraceptives were reached with support from UNFPA and other partners in Zambia.