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For many women in Lesotho, having to travel long distances to access family planning services in remote health facilities is a concern.

However, that situation is changing rapidly. The Ministry of Health and UNFPA have introduced a new family planning method in Lesotho, Sayana Press – a self-injection depo contraceptive. Sayana Press can be self-administered by the client or by any (non-medical) person who has received minimal training. The new method has a 3 month active period of protection. UNFPA has recently supported the training of over 500 community health workers in Mokhotlong and Quthing districts to introduce this family planning method. Both are the districts with the highest unmet need for family planning.

Many women welcomed the initiative and feel empowered to administer the long term method in their community by themselves, with their daughters or with the help of a trained community health worker. There is no more need for long journeys to the health facility if they want to decide on the number of children they want or if they are happy with their family size. The method also revealed to be most appropriate to reach communities and improve access to family planning in times of COVID19.  

The Family Planning Manager at the Ministry of Health Ms Mangose Sithole Tsotetsi confirmed that: "...the role played by community health workers in the distribution of Sayana Press is crucial to empower women." She valued the support from UNFPA in the procurement of additional family planning commodities in 2020 which was a relief of the Government funding that is affected by the COVID-19 priorities,” she added.

The UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw has commended the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho for starting to procure family planning commodities from the national budget. He has also emphasized that access to family planning is a right, reiterating that it is at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate and transformative results in Lesotho. UNFPA will continue to avail resources to further roll out the Sayana Press method and to reach full national coverage by the end of 2021.