Knowledge and Use of Emergency Contraception in PMA2020 Surveys

Publication type: EC Issue Papers and Briefs
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Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) conducts surveys on family planning (FP) indicators. Launched in 2013, surveys have been conducted in 10 countries to date. PMA2020 uses a multi-stage cluster design, stratifying by urban-rural, major regions and districts and surveys households, individual females aged 15-49, and health facilities.

Every new country conducts surveys semi-annually in the first two years for each project country and annually thereafter.

Data from eight African countries were analyzed to determine trends in emergency contraceptive (EC) knowledge and use. Different countries have different numbers of rounds of data available, the round is indicated when the results are presented.



Knowledge of EC

Levels of knowledge about EC vary considerably across the different countries, being highest in Kenya and Ghana, and lowest in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Niger (Figure 1). In general, women who are older than 25 have greater levels of awareness than those aged 15-24, as do women with higher levels of education (not shown).




Use of EC

EC is an underutilized method and use of EC is rare in most countries, according to PMA data. Use of EC among all women, across all countries, is under 1% for both current use and recent use. Women who are sexually active and unmarried have higher levels of EC use than women who are currently married/in union.

Unmarried women were more likely to report that they used EC as their first family planning method, compared to currently married women.

Access to EC

Women in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda were surveyed on where they accessed EC and other modern methods of contraception. In all three countries, EC was much more likely to be obtained in a pharmacy or store, whereas other modern methods were more likely to be obtained at a health facility. For instance, in Ghana, 94% of EC users reported purchasing it at a pharmacy or store, compared to only 31% of other modern methods. Fees or payment was also more common to obtain EC than other modern methods, and women were more likely to report that they made the decision to use the method alone.



Women in Kenya and Ghana were the most likely in all the countries to report that they were aware of EC. Knowledge is still low in other countries surveyed. Unmarried women in Nigeria were the most likely to report that they used EC as a first method. The PMA2020 questionnaire does not give an accurate measurement of lifetime use of EC. Addition of such a question would allow for more comparison of use over time.


Data was used by permission of PMA2020.

Analysis by Tulane University