Pharmacist attitudes toward emergency contraception in South Africa

To aid in the design of interventions to increase access to emergency contraception (EC) at South African pharmacies, Ibis and the Population Council surveyed 34 pharmacists in the Johannesburg Central Business District and Soweto in 2003 about their knowledge and provision of EC, their attitudes toward the method, and their willingness to provide EC and other information relevant to clients. We found that nearly all pharmacists surveyed sell EC; however, they restrict access for teenagers. In addition, fear of potential health risks associated with EC and the assumption that access to the method increases the risk of unprotected sex (and thus HIV/STIs) are likely to limit women’s access to EC in South Africa. Taking advantage of pharmacists’ willingness to display EC promotional materials and opportunities to improve awareness through counseling and distribution of written materials could increase women’s knowledge and use of EC.