Drug Shops and Pharmacies: Sources for family planning commodities and information

Small commercial drug shops and pharmacies are often the first line of health care in poor countries, especially in rural areas that have very few private or public clinics. Drug shops and pharmacies are an important source of health services, products, and information that is particularly important in the context of high maternal mortality and morbidity, critical health-worker shortages, poorly stocked clinics, and high unmet need for family planning.

Evidence shows that with appropriate training and support, pharmacy and drug-shop staff can facilitate the use of modern contraception, especially in urban slums and rural areas where the unmet need is high, access is poor, and health-worker shortages and other barriers prevent men, women, and youth from accessing family planning services.

This brief describes the importance of these outlets for distributing commodities and information and outlines key issues for planning and implementing programs to support pharmacy and drug-shop staff. Drug shops are emphasized, as they are less familiar to the family planning community as potential outlets for contraception.