$1 contraceptive shot for world’s poorest women

3rd world countries toWomen in the developing world will now be able to buy the contraceptive device, ‘Sayana Press’, for £1 or receive it free. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Children’s Investment Fund, are extending access to new contraceptive injections for women in 69 of the world’s poorest countries.

The BBC describe ‘Sayana Press’ as simple and pre-packaged so doesn’t rely on preparation by health workers; reducing risk of spillage or dosing errors. The device is single-use so cuts infection due to needle-sharing and works for 3 months.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 222m women in developing countries would choose to use contraception but don’t have access. Only 26% African women use contraception, a figure that’s doubled in the past two decades – but remains low for a region where women want safe, affordable and reliable contraceptives.

Kadidia Diallo, a midwife in Burkina Faso, West Africa, the first country to be offered the pilot contraceptive injection spoke to the BBC saying: ‘Normally for injections you have to put them in someone’s bottom, or the top of their leg, but with this – you use the arm. That’s an advantage for women living in the bush. Many women don’t come forward for injections if they have to pull their dresses up – this is more discreet.’

Basic health, prosperity, equality and access to contraceptives are essential to secure a sustainable world. Head of Global Development at the Gates Foundation, Dr Chris Elias, said in The Independent: ‘When women are able to plan their families, they are more likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth, to have healthier newborns and children, and to invest more in their families’ health and wellbeing’.

It’s a sentiment shared by the women demanding contraceptives themselves. Rahimata Tiendrébéogo, who is 18 and from Burkina Faso, wants to attend university to study English: “It’s not good for people to have babies so young because they are students…they don’t have money or the means to bring up children. I’m independent and I want to be responsible.” More women like Tiendrébéogo can take control of their bodies and choose to use birth control, something we in the West take for granted.

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