Background: Unplanned pregnancy is major public health concern. Globally unintended pregnancies account for about 40% of all pregnancies annually. The problem is more in developed countries in which nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. In Tanzania over 20 women die each day due to the complication of unplanned pregnancy and childbirth which contribute to high maternal mortality rate. Though EC can prevent unplanned pregnancies by nearly 95% to 99% but the practice is still very low in Africa as well as in Tanzania despite some of the study shown that there is moderate knowledge. Therefore, the current study aiming of assessing knowledge, practice and barrier or challenges which face female university students in using EC.
Method: A cross-sectional study design was conducted among 365 female students at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCO), Mwenge Catholic University (MWECAU) and Moshi cooperative University (MOCU) in Kilimanjaro region. A simple random sampling technique was used to select study participants. Self-administered questionnaires were used during data collection.
Results: About (65.7%) of the female university students had ever heard of EC and more than half of them had knowledge on when to use EC (54.4%), where to obtain (58.7%) and time for EC to be taken (41.5%). Moreover about 75.6% of female university students in this study reported never use emergency contraceptives (EC) while 24.4% reported having ever used emergency contraceptive and among 24.4% EC users reported that 90.2% use EC pills method. On the other hand, common barriers toward EC use reported by female university students were fear of side effects, personal barrier, and religion opposition 39.4%, 31.9% and 12.8% respectively.
Conclusions: This study found that majority 65.7% of female university students had ever heard of emergence contraceptive (EC) in their lives. Practice of EC is still very low among female students where by only 24.4% reported having ever used emergency contraceptive. Fear of side effect and personal barrier were mostly reported as the common barrier by the female student towards EC usage 39.4%, 31.9% respectively. Thus, there is an urgent need to educate the female university students about EC.