“Family planning creates love,” says Ahmed Mawejje, a volunteer health worker in Mubende, Uganda. “If there are many children crying for food, attacked by diseases, there is no room for love.”
Ahmed is one of 3,000 health workers in four countries trained by PATH and our partners in 2014 to deliver a groundbreaking new form of contraception. Sayana® Press combines a lower-dose formulation of the widely used injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera® with the Uniject™ injection system.
Injectable contraceptives are popular in Africa because they’re discreet and safe, there is almost no risk of unintended pregnancy, and they provide three months of protection. But accessing them can be difficult for women who live far from health facilities.
That’s one reason PATH developed the Uniject injection system—a small bubble of plastic prefilled with a single dose of medication and attached to a short needle. Designed for community health workers like Ahmed, it’s easy to use and transport to remote facilities, villages, and even homes.
PATH championed Sayana Press every step of the way, from the original idea of combining Depo-Provera with Uniject to pilot introductions in 2014. We acted as matchmaker between BD, Uniject’s manufacturer, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., and we did research critical for the product’s introduction. We also coordinated the work of a consortium of donors and the governments of Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda to develop introduction strategies and helped partners navigate complex procurement logistics.
By the end of 2014, Sayana Press was being used by thousands of women across Burkina Faso, Niger, and Uganda, and Senegal was on the verge of introduction.
“Sayana Press removes our biggest challenge,” said Dr. Zainab Akol, focal person for family planning at Uganda’s Ministry of Health. “Enhancing the method that is the number one choice of women is so beautiful.”
In 2014, Pfizer, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation announced a significant price reduction for Sayana Press that will give millions more women access to the contraceptive at reduced or no cost. PATH is also laying the groundwork for new research into the feasibility of self-injection to give women even more autonomy.
The launch of Sayana Press was the result of years of planning, but it is only the beginning for women who deserve more control over the timing and spacing of their pregnancies and a better chance at a healthy life.
Sayana Press and Depo-Provera are registered trademarks of Pfizer Inc. and/or its affiliates. Uniject is a trademark of BD.
Millions of women in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe will gain access to Sayana Press, an affordable injectable contraceptive.
Key partners: Ministries of health and implementing partners in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda, including the United Nations Population Fund in Burkina Faso and Niger; ChildFund International and IntraHealth International in Senegal; Communications for Development Foundation Uganda, Pathfinder Uganda, Reproductive Health Uganda, and Uganda Health Marketing Group.
Key funders: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; US Agency for International Development; individual contributors and family foundations.