Emergency contraception in post-conflict Somalia: An assessment of awareness and perceptions of need

In conflict-affected settings such as Somalia, emergency contraception (EC) has the potential to serve as an important means of pregnancy prevention. Yet Somalia remains one of the few countries without a registered progestin-only EC pill. In 2014, we conducted a qualitative, multi-methods study in Mogadishu to explore awareness of and perceptions of need for EC. Our project included 10 semi-structured key informant interviews, 20 structured in-person interviews with pharmacists, and four focus group discussions with married and unmarried Somali women. Our findings reveal a widespread lack of knowledge of both existing family planning methods and EC. However, once we described EC, participants expressed enthusiasm for expanding access to post-coital contraception. Our results shed light on why Somalia continues to be a global exception with respect to an EC product and suggest possible politically and culturally acceptable and effective avenues for introducing EC into the health system.