A self-administered contraceptive jab

A self-administered contraceptive jab

MOKHOTLONG- AFTER walking several kilometres to collect her contraceptives, Moleboheng Nkoe* would have the extra struggle of finding a discreet place to hide the pills from her husband. Like many local married men, her husband is against the use of contraceptives.
“I understand the importance of family planning but my husband does not,” said Nkoe, a mother to a five-year old child and a nine-month old baby.
“He says they are not good for me,” said Nkoe, who said she had to walk for up to an hour to the nearest heath facility for contraceptives.

But, thanks to an initiative by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the ministry of health, both problems are now history.
The UN agency has introduced a self-administered contraceptive injection in some rural districts of the country.
The move is expected to result in more rural women taking up contraceptives and avoid unwanted pregnancies as they will be able to self-inject after every three months than constantly travel long distances to health centres.

The new contraceptive is called Subcutaneous DMPA (DMPA-SC) under the brand name Sayana Press.
It comes in a pre-filled, all-in-one injection system and will be delivered every three months to rural women and girls who have the greatest need for contraceptives but have to travel for kilometers, often on foot, to access contraceptives.

The family planning (FP) contraceptive will be offered for free in public hospitals.
This contraceptive is safe, according to officials.
Officials from the Ministry of Health, with assistance from the UNFPA, have been training health practitioners on the use and administration of the injection.
The health practitioners are expected to pass on the knowledge to village health workers who work with women and girls in rural communities.
Users are praising the new contraceptive.

For those who have to take contraceptives secretly to avoid detection by their husbands, the injection has come in handy.
Nkoe, who is on her first injection, said she had to hide her family planning pills from her husband as well as family members and even her close friends.
“I was afraid they would tell my husband. It is hard to talk about sex or anything associated with it with my husband or other close relatives and friends,” said the 25-year-old.
The injection, she said, makes life easier as she doesn’t have to struggle to get good hiding places like she did with pills.

She is however still afraid to inject herself. In such cases, village health workers help administer the injection, said Relebohile Thibiri, the Nurse-in-charge at Moeketsane Health Centre.
Unlike Nkoe, 36-year old ’Mathabelo Ramangange has no such issues with secrecy because her husband is supportive.
“When we want a child, we talk, decide and I take a break from the contraceptive. I have never had trouble with him,” said the mother of three.

She has been on the new contraceptive longer and was scheduled for a second injection on Tuesday, although she is still being helped by the nurses to administer the injection until after three injections.
“I will start to take a home supply after my third injection. I believe I will be able to do it on my own,” she said.
Mafotha Nkhatho, one of the few male village health workers, said myths surrounding contraceptives force women into secrecy.
“We have heard them say a woman becomes wet when they use contraceptives and men in this village don’t want wet women. It requires hard and lengthy talks with the men and give them sex-education” Nkhatho said. Tšeliso Masilo, an official with UNFPA, said the DMPA-SC has the potential to reach people in remote areas and in larger volumes.

Rose Moremoholo

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