Every year on September 26, World Contraception Day aims to improve awareness of contraceptive methods and enable youth to make informed choices about their reproductive destinies. DKT International, one of the largest providers of family planning, contraceptives, and safe abortion products in the developing world emphasizes the importance of protecting sexual and reproductive health rights and ensuring access to safe, affordable contraceptive options. While COVID-19 has introduced immense challenges in reaching people with contraceptives, DKT remains steadfast in addressing roadblocks exacerbated by the pandemic and continuing their essential work.
"While the impact of COVID-19 is still unfolding, experts suggest global sexual and reproductive health needs have been—and will continue to be—greatly altered by COVID-19. The lockdowns that governments instituted to slow the spread of the virus have impeded access to modern contraception," says Chris Purdy, CEO of DKT. "Our mission is to ensure that resources, information and essential family planning products and services remain available during these uncertain times to those that need it most."
The below updates from DKT offer a glimpse into the work being done to help people protect their sexual and reproductive health:
- Providing more options to customize need. DKT’s South America regional program continues to increase sexual and reproductive health options for women and men. DKT launched male and female condoms in Colombia, female condoms and IUDs in Paraguay, IUDs in Ecuador, and emergency contraception in Bolivia. Similar efforts have been undertaken in Africa where DKT also launched emergency contraception (EC) in both Guinea and Mauritania and has seen positive results, selling thousands of units. While EC remains less well known by medical providers and consumers in developing countries, it is a unique and critical product, because it is a user-controlled contraceptive method that is often available without a prescription.
- The launch of e-commerce to reach consumers. To make sexual and reproductive health products more accessible during the pandemic, DKT launched e-commerce platforms in Pakistan and Egypt giving customers and providers the option to order DKT's products directly. In Pakistan, DKT partnered with Daraz, the largest e-commerce website in Pakistan, to offer Josh condoms for direct-to-consumer delivery to promote safer sex and contraception during the lockdown. In Egypt, DKT launched an online store, DKT-Shop, where doctors, pharmacists, and wholesalers can easily access products and replenish stock without requiring a physical visit from sales personnel.
- Helping navigate COVID-19 social guidelines. The Indonesian Government loosened restrictions and eased social distancing guidelines to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. However, reproductive healthcare remains a priority. DKT Indonesia shared tips about preparing for a family planning visit, encouraging clients to wear masks in clinics, keep distance while waiting in line or in waiting rooms, or scrapping in-person visits entirely and opting for telemedicine consultations. DKT Indonesia also operates a contact center where clients can call in to learn more about how to prioritize health care during "the new normal."
- New HIV self-test kit ensures discrete, accurate and convenient method of HIV testing. DKT Nigeria launched OraQuick, an oral HIV self-test kit, in Nigeria in June, revolutionizing access to HIV testing. This is the first in-home oral HIV self-test kit to be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), The Nigerian National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Federal Ministry of Health, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Training health care providers both virtually and in person. In Uganda, DKT instructed four of the master trainers of the Uganda Private Midwives Association with a focus on safe abortion care and practical training in IUD insertions and MVA procedures. In turn, the master training midwives will share their knowledge and cascade trainings to the over 700 members of the association. In Kenya, DKT conducted virtual training sessions with over 300 Kenya Clinical Officers Association from Nairobi, Coast, and Rift Valley on topics such as medication abortion, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), and IUDs.
- Scaling up access to injectable contraceptives. DKT WomanCare recently announced its partnership with Incepta Pharmaceuticals to expand access to a 3-month injectable contraceptive in 40 countries around the world. The partnership enables DKT to secure a high-quality supply of the contraceptive at an affordable price to consumers and increase the basket of choice women have over their reproductive destinies.
"While we have certainly been met with challenges, DKT will continue to face them with optimism and tenacity to ensure safe and accessible reproductive health services and products in our ever-changing world," adds Purdy.
Since 1989, DKT International’s core mission has been to provide safe and affordable options for family planning and HIV prevention through social marketing in 90 underserved countries throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In 2019, DKT generated 47 million CYPs through the sale of more than 805 million condoms, 93 million cycles of oral contraceptives, 13 million emergency contraceptives, 30 million injectables, 1.8 million implants, 4 million IUDs, 4 million medical abortion (MA) combipacks, and 222,000 MVA kits.