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Where Women Access Contraception in 36 Low- and Middle-Income Countries and Why It Matters
Authors: Sarah E. K. Bradley and Tess Shiras
Source: Global Health: Science and Practice, Volume 10, issue 3; DOI:
Topic(s): Contraception
Rural-urban differentials
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: JUN 2022
Abstract: We examined where women access modern contraceptives, using recent Demographic and Health Survey data from 36 low- and middle-income countries and disaggregating results by contraceptive method, age, marital status, residence, socioeconomic status, and country income. We used bivariate and multivariate regression analysis to assess how demographic factors are associated with contraceptive source. In pooled analysis across countries analyzed, we found that 34% of users rely on private sources, 63% use public sources, and 3% use other sources. Among private sector users, 41% use pharmacies or drug shops, 11% general shops or markets, 36% private hospitals and clinics, and 12% nongovernmental or faith-based organizations. This analysis demonstrates the importance of the private sector for specific population segments including women in the wealthiest population quintile (odds ratio [OR]: 4.09, P<.001 compared with women in the poorest quintile), adolescents (OR: 2.03, P<.001 compared with women ages 40–49), never married women (OR 1.55, P<.001 compared with ever-married women), and urban women (OR: 1.42, P<.001 compared with rural women). The private sector does not only serve these populations, however. On average across countries analyzed, 22% of the poorest contraceptive users and 27% of rural users use private sources. Leveraging both sectors is key to meeting the reproductive needs of women across all sociodemographic groups in low- and middle-income countries.