A primary goal of the Family Planning 2020 initiative is to “expand access to family planning, information, services, and supplies to an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 of the world’s poorest countries by 2020.”
The contraceptive implant is a progestogen-based birth control method contributing to the possibility of achieving this goal. These small, matchstick-sized rods are placed under the skin of a woman’s upper arm and last from three to five years. The effectiveness, convenience, and recent price drop of the implants makes them an ideal option for women in low-income communities.
Data on contraceptive orders from and shipments to 140 countries worldwide is managed by the Reproductive Health Interchange, or RHI. A working group known as the Implants Access Program Operations Group graphed their data, which reflects the rapid increase in the procurement of implants from Family Planning 2020’s low-income focus countries over the last decade.
Health clinics that provide insertions are currently more expensive and less well-equipped to provide removals.
What’s more important at this point, however, are their projected estimates of the need for removals now that the 3- to 5-year lifespan of contraceptives implanted in 2012 is nearly over. Health clinics that provide insertions are currently more expensive and less well-equipped to provide removals. Implant users report having trouble with this very necessary follow-up step, which means a widespread scale-up of implants is at risk for failure.
Diffusion of innovation is a tricky phenomenon. Good ideas don’t always flourish as quickly as public health leaders and researchers might hope. But on occasions when an innovation does take off, as it appears is happening with contraceptive implants, celebrate quickly. There’s more work to do to make sure those who have gotten on board receive continued support.
Graph from Implants Access Program Operations Group