Partnering to Make Family Planning More Accessible through the Private Sector
Family planning helps to save the lives of women and children. With less than two years to go to reach United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are still important gaps in achieving the Ghanaian targets for reduced child mortality (MDG #4) and improved maternal health (MDG #5). Family planning can play a strategic role. Family Planning is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways of improving maternal health and preventing unnecessary maternal and newborn deaths.
Ghana’s maternal mortality rate has reduced from 740 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 451 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008. However, if the current trends continue it is unlikely Ghana will meet the target of 185 per 100,000 live births by 2015. In addition, although there has been a significant reduction in both infant and under-five mortality, Ghana is also unlikely to meet its MDG target for child mortality.
The 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey findings indicate that the main childbearing years for Ghanaian women are during their 20s and early 30s. Thirty-five percent of married Ghanaian women have an unmet need for family planning. These are married women who do not want any more children or who want to wait two or more years before having another child, but are not using contraception. Overall, about one in four currently married women in Ghana is using a method of contraception (12 percent for spacing births and 11 percent for limiting births). The unavailability of family planning services and post-natal care in health facilities have been identified as major constraints to the progress towards reducing maternal mortality.
To improve access to family planning, Bayer HealthCare is partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to introduce an affordable oral contraceptive, Microgynon® Fe, through private sector pharmacies. Bayer HealthCare is a world leader in the field of female hormonal contraception, particularly in oral contraception. For over 50 years Bayer HealthCare, in collaboration with partners, has been committed to giving women access to family planning with hormonal contraceptives.
This regional partnership between Bayer HealthCare and USAID was introduced in Ghana in March 2013. The partnership is designed to make more affordable family planning choices available to women through the private sector and address the growing demand for contraceptives and the overall sustainability of supply. Family planning allows couples to plan their families as they desire, reduces the risks from unwanted and/or high-risk pregnancies, and improves the health of mothers and their children by allowing time between pregnancies. Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare, Director of the Family Health Division, Ghana Health Service noted at the partnership launch that ¨the Ghanaian Health Service recognizes the importance of the role of the private sector in contributing to development goals, and in this case, the availability of an affordable, quality oral contraceptive. We recognize that partnerships are essential to moving forward in these challenging areas especially having to focusing on health issues that affect women as well as efforts to strengthen the system that provides the services they need to improve and their health and development.”
Microgynon® is the world’s leading oral contraceptive. Microgynon® Fe is currently available at a reduced price in pharmacies throughout the country. A well-known obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Michael McCarthy, from Sinel Specialist Hospital noted that “Combined oral contraceptives are 99% effective when used consistently and correctly. It also provides women with a reversible method that is easy to discontinue and has a rapid return to fertility. Microgynon® Fe is being used by millions of women around the world and is well known and trusted by medical professionals.”