Written by Naftali Mwaura
An innovative public-private partnership announced on Wednesday at the UN Headquarters in New York will help expand access to modern birth control pills to an extra 27 million women and girls in poor countries.
The new partnership brings on board governments of Norway, UK, Sweden and the US as well as Clinton Health Access Initiative and German Pharmaceutical firm, Bayer Healthcare AG, to subsidize the cost of a safe and effective contraceptive device.
According to a statement, the Bayer manufactured contraceptive device called Jadelle has been approved by World Health Organization (WHO) to help reduce unwanted pregnancies among poor women.
“Under this agreement, Bayer is reducing by more than half the current 18 USD price of its long-acting, reversible method of contraception, Jadelle, in return for a commitment to assure funding for at least 27 million contraceptive devices for the next six years. The agreement will be effective starting January 2013,”said the statement
The statement added that this partnership will help avert more than 280,000 child and 30,000 maternal deaths due to improved spacing alongside cushioning against pre-term births.
It is hoped that greater access to the Bayer contraceptive device will avert an estimated 30 million unwanted pregnancies from 2013 to 2018 and help save 250 million USD in global health costs.
Bayer contraceptive device is inserted into the inner side of the upper arm and consists of two plastic rods that contain long acting, slow release progestrogen which provides safe and effective protection against pregnancy.
The statement stressed that this device is ideal for all women and is safe for breastfeeding mothers.
Trained health workers like nurses and mid-wives can insert the device which provides effective birth control for five years and can safely be removed if a mother wants her fertility restored.
“These contraceptive devices are a very cost effective means of contraception and they are ideal for women in rural areas, who often travel miles by foot to reach health clinics,” said Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerian President who together with the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, co-chairs the UN Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children.
Currently, an estimated 200 million women and girls in developing countries lack access to modern contraceptives.
The new partnership will remove barriers that deny poor women access to family planning services.
“As we have seen time and again, providing women in developing countries with safe and affordable medical treatment options not only has a substantial impact on individual lives, but on entire societies,” said former US President Bill Clinton.
Bayer Healthcare in a bid to fulfill its Access to Medicine strategy has partnered with governments, civil society and donors to expand access to affordable family planning commodities.
“Innovation is the key to our commercial success and at the same time the basis of our social commitment,” said Jorg Reinhardt, the CEO, Bayer Healthcare AG.
He added, “That’s why we invest significantly in research and development of new treatment options. We want as many people as possible to share this progress-regardless of their income or where they live”.
It is hoped that the new partnership will accelerate the realization of family planning targets at local, national and international levels.