R9 billion needed to close contraception gap

R9 billion needed to close contraception gapNewly released WHO guidelines state that Depo-Provera can be used without restriction. (File Photo)

More than 20 million young women are not accessing contraception globally, resulting in about 10 million unintended pregnancies each year, according to a new report by US reproductive health and rights organisation Guttmacher Institute.

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A lack of contraception among women between the ages of 15 and 19 years results in about 10 million unplanned pregnancies annually

Released at the international Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, the institute’s latest report estimates that an unmet need for contraception among women between the ages of 15 and 19 globally leads to 10.2 million unintended pregnancies each year. Based on more than 130 national surveys, the report found that the gap in contraception access is highest among adolescents in Asia and Africa.

With more than 5,000 attendees, the conference is being billed as the largest international conference on the health and rights of women and girls in the last decade. Women Delivers concludes today.

In Africa, almost 70 percent of sexually active young women surveyed had no access to modern contraceptives such as condoms, the pill and implants.

According to the report, the world must increase spending on contraception by about R9 billion, or about R300 per woman per year, to fill the contraception gap among young women.

“Meeting adolescents’ contraceptive needs is not only affordable, but the payback is enormous, improving the lives of millions of young women around the world,” Guttmacher Institute CEO and President Ann Starrs told Health-e News. “Helping adolescent women avoid unintended pregnancy and childbearing has a profound impact on their lives, enabling them to achieve greater educational attainment, better economic opportunities and healthier lives.”

According to the report, ensuring access to contraception globally would avoid six million unintended pregnancies annually among young women. This would lead to 2.1 million fewer unplanned births and 3.2 million fewer abortions each year.

“There must be an effort to increase high-quality contraceptive services for adolescents,” said Guttmacher Institute Director of International Research Akinrinola Bankole. Bankole also urged that services be provided by healthcare providers who were sensitive to the needs of adolescents and young women. – Health-e News.

An edited version of this story also appeared on Health24.com