Leveraging Chatbots to Understand the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning Demand: Insights from Users in Four Countries
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted both the supply of and demand for family planning commodities. Several analyses examined the effect of COVID-19 across the supply chain and potential impacts on use, as global actors work to avoid supply chain disruptions. These analyses have all drawn on supply-side data to inform their models, with limited insight into demand-side data. The reliance on supply-side data in many of the assessments of COVID-19’s impact can hide immediate changes in demand due to long procurement lead times, the availability of buffer stock at different points in the supply chain, and lags in sales data reported back up to manufacturers and distributors. Developing more rapid and low-cost approaches to monitoring changes in demand at the country and local levels can help governments and their private sector partners better anticipate shifts in the family planning market and prepare to address potential shocks. This study partnered with askNivi, an innovative AI-enabled chatbot, to deploy a rapid survey of women in 4 countries (India, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa) on their family planning use before and during the pandemic. This effort informed a rapid pulse check of the challenges that certain demographics of women faced accessing contraceptives during COVID-19 and the adaptations they made to continue accessing their chosen method. This information can help stakeholders across the supply value chain to better prepare for changes in demand within the dynamic context of the COVID-19 pandemic.