Member Spotlight: The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya

A SPOTLIGHT ON The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya

A conversation with Dr. Munene, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and self-injection ambassador

The Self-injection Ambassadors Initiative is an effort led by the subcutaneous DMPA (DMPA-SC) Access Collaborative, implemented by PATH and JSI. Ambassadors are technical experts in self-injection and advocates for the evidence-based potential of contraceptive self-injection. They leverage their reach and influence to advance self-injection programs and best practice in their home countries and abroad, championing contraceptive self-injection, an appropriate contraceptive method mix, and sexual and reproductive health self-care. Current Ambassadors are leaders from government, academia, the private sector and technical assistance partners representing DRC, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, and Zambia. This spotlight focuses on Dr. Daniella Munene, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya who spoke with us about her work surrounding self-injectable contraceptives.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION!

The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) is part of the “Expanding Access to Family Planning” Taskforce in Kenya, which has designed a curriculum for training pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists on the provision of family planning. This includes injectable contraceptives which include self-injectable contraceptives. PSK has begun the training of pharmacists to provide family planning services including injectable (and self-injectable) contraceptives. The goal of this project is to expand access to family planning services through the private sector.

WHY DO you CONSIDER SELF-CARE TO BE A VITAL PART OF HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS? 

We all have in innate need and drive to be in control of our bodies, and our health. Self-care interventions meet this need and help to amplify self-efficacy that is so necessary to create positive behavior change in health. Self-care, by shifting responsibility to the individual, reduces the stress on the health system so that it can reach more people with needed services. In this way, self-care has the potential to ensure lasting and sustainable health change in individuals, communities and populations.

I personally have advocated for HIV self-testing and self-injectable contraceptives to be provided by pharmacists. It is a major milestone that Kenya now has an official training curriculum for pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists to enable them provide family planning services including injectable (and self-injectable) contraceptives.

I have also participated as a member of the Guideline Development Group for WHO guidelines on self-care interventions for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). I am so honored to be a part of this process as Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya continues to organize training of pharmacists based on these guidelines.

HOW DOES PSK BELIEVE SELF-CARE CAN help reach young women and girls?

By training pharmacists in self-injection of contraceptives, our organization has an opportunity to reach more adolescent girls and young women with contraceptives. Private pharmacies are able and willing to provide contraceptives, including self – injectable contraceptives and they have been proven to be a youth friendly channel for providing contraception (Chandra-Mouli et al. 2014; WHO 2017). Providing family planning through private pharmacies has been identified as a high impact intervention towards improving contraceptive prevalence rate, and self-injection of contraception is a major part of this.

However, we still have a way to go. While there is a self-injectable contraceptive that has been approved for use in Kenya, there was not universal acceptance for pharmacists to provide injectable contraceptives. Even after the change in national family planning guidelines to allow this, we learned that a policy document does not necessarily change a mindset. To convert policy to practice, advocacy needs to continue long after a policy change is obtained.

To learn more about the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and their work around self-injectable contraception, read on here.

For more information on the Self-injection Ambassadors Initiative, please contact Katie Gray, kgray@path.org