The provision of emergency contraceptives in private sector pharmacies in urban Kenya: Experiences of mystery clients

  • Francis Obare Population Council, Nairobi
  • Wilson Liambila Population Council, Lusaka
Keywords: Emergency contraceptives, Kenya, provision, Private pharmacies, Mystery clients


This paper presents the results of an assessment of the provision of emergency contraceptives (EC) in private pharmacies in Nairobi, Kenya. Trained female mystery clients (MCs) made a total of 103 visits to 20 randomly selected pharmacies and presented accounts of their experiences. The results show that: 1) some providers insist on doctors’ prescriptions before they can dispense EC; 2) there are variations among providers on the recommended dosage and possible side-effects of EC pills; 3) MCs presenting as inexperienced clients were significantly more likely to be given additional information on EC than the experienced ones; 4) there was no significant difference in the provision of additional reproductive health (RH) information/services by the scenario presented. This suggests the need for: 1) provider training and/or updates on EC to enhance their capacity to offer additional RH information/services; 2) sensitizing EC clients on the importance of obtaining additional RH information/services from providers.