Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bold Partnership Brings New Contraceptive to Empower Women

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September 27, 2012

Yesterday a new partnership was announced at the United Nations to accelerate access to modern contraceptives for millions of women in low-income countries. This is a huge milestone in the efforts of the FP2020 initiative which is taking forward the commitments made at the London Summit on Family Planning. This new partnership will drastically reduce the price of one type of contraceptive: implants, a long-lasting reversible contraception (LARC), enabling more women to decide the timing and spacing of their births.

How does it work?

The implant, Jadelle, lasts for five years. It’s manufactured by Bayer and through a partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Governments of Norway, the United Kingdom, the US and Sweden, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and others, Bayer is assured a market for at least 27 million contraceptive devices over the next six years. They can plan accordingly, manufacture the appropriate quantity of Jadelle, and be confident their product will be purchased. And that assurance allows them to reduce the price by more than half. This is a tremendous advance for women around the world, especially in low income settings where price is a real barrier to use.

Implants are one of the most popular methods of contraception, but at the cost of $18, most governments, donors, and women could not afford to buy this safe and effective product.  Across sub-Saharan Africa there are huge stock-outs of implants because countries do not have sufficient funds to provide this preferred method.

This price reduction will finally allow women to have access to a range of contraceptive methods. Every woman deserves the right to have the opportunity to select which contraceptive method is best for her needs and which to use.  The initiative will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and children and prevent millions of unwanted pregnancies by giving women access to  information, supplies and services to delay, space and limit her births.

What does that mean for the more than 30 countries that have signed on to the FP2020 commitment to increase access to modern contraceptives?

Countries will be able to ‘fill the pipeline’ with a variety of contraceptive options because they will know what women want by an informed push model of supply. It can foster an understanding of true demand, when a woman selects her preferred contraceptive method not dependent on simply what is available or not available at the time.

A pilot project in Senegal has shifted to this informed push approach to filling the pipeline and has seen the demand for long-lasting reversible contraception, such as these implants, increase dramatically. The government is now better able to forecast demand and ensure all contraceptive options are available at health centers.

Most importantly, what does this mean for women in low-income countries who want to decide whether, when and how many children to have?

This new development puts the power in women’s hands with information, services and contraceptive methods they need and want. Research shows that when given the options, women prefer using modern long-acting methods that are reversible and easy to use.

The benefits of an implant are tremendous. After insertion of Jadelle, it is safe and effective for five years. That means a woman doesn’t have to return to the health center every three months for an injectable or to pick up her next packet of pills or hope that condoms are available from her local clinic or shop. She can decide what is best for her, her family, and her reproductive health intentions.

This partnership’s commitment to the vision of the London Summit on Family Planning is inspiring: to allow women in the developing world the same access to and utilization of life-saving contraceptives as women in the US or Europe.  This one action is a huge step forward to accelerate utilization of modern contraceptives by 120 million additional women by 2020.

Most importantly, though, it allows women in some of the poorest regions of the world  the chance to make their own choices about how to plan their families. 

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