In the aftermath of the pandemic-related massive disruptions to family planning services, the World Health Organization (WHO) says women can be taught to self-administer contraceptive injections.
This is one of the practical measures to ensure continuity of family planning services during epidemics that is contained in the WHO update. family planning manualwhich was launched on Tuesday at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2022) in Thailand.
The world’s population reached eight billion on Tuesday, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kenam told the ICFP conference opener on Monday that “eight billion is an achievement. It’s a story of people living longer and healthier lives, a story of systems more resilient and efficient health systems, more women and babies surviving childbirth”.
But in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “about 70% of countries reported disturbances to these vital services, heightening the risks of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections,” according to the WHO.
Its manual details practical steps to support family planning services during epidemics, including “wider access to self-administered contraceptives and direct distribution of contraceptives by pharmacies.”
According to the WHO, a progestin-only contraceptive, depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), can now be safely injected just under the skin rather than into the muscle, making it easier to self-administer.
Many women prefer injectable contraceptives because they are private and non-intrusive and last two to three months.
“The updated recommendations in this handbook show that almost all family planning methods can be used safely by all women, and therefore all women should have access to a range of options that meet their unique needs and goals in life,” said Dr. Mary Gaffield. , scientist and main author of the manual.
“Family planning services can be delivered safely and affordably so that, regardless of where they live, couples and individuals can choose from safe and effective family planning methods.”
In a video message at the opening of the IFPC, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyusus said, “Quality family planning and reproductive health and rights are essential components of universal health coverage and primary health care”.
“Family planning is also essential to achieving development goals, including education, food security, economic prosperity and even climate change. WHO is working around the world to support countries with family planning programs, including helping 96 countries update their national clinical practice guidelines,” he added.
For the first time, the 2022 edition of the manual includes a dedicated chapter to guide family planning services for women and adolescents at high risk of HIV, including people living in areas with high HIV prevalence, have multiple sexual partners or whose regular partner is living with HIV.
It also incorporates the latest WHO guidelines on cervical cancer and pre-cancer prevention, screening and treatmentall of which can be provided by family planning services; management sexually transmitted infections, and family planning in post-abortion care.
Now in its fourth edition, the WHO Family Planning Manual is the most widely used reference guide on the subject in the world, with more than one million copies distributed or downloaded to date. It is complemented by the Medical Eligibility Criteria Tool for Contraceptive Use, also downloadable as a Dedicated app.
Image credits: Coalition for Reproductive Health Supplies / Unsplash.
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