19th November 2010

AIDWA expresses deep concern about the Health Ministry’s reported proposal to allow introduction of injectable contraceptives into the public health system. This is a retrograde and unfortunate decision which is sought to be adopted despite the consistent objections that have been raised by the organizations working closely with women’s rights and women’s health issues, over a long period of time. It is most unfortunate that the Ministry has not discussed the matter with the organizations and individuals working on this issue, before arriving at a decision that is potentially harmful to women, especially those belonging to the vulnerable sections of society.

The sustained opposition to Depo-Provera and Net En from organizations working with women’s health needs arises from some serious considerations:

  1. Long acting hormonal contraceptives cause changes in the menstrual system, and some of these may be harmful, and cause irreversible damage to the woman’s body, especially in scenarios where women are anaemic, are burdened down with work pressure, lack rest, etc. They remain in the body even after the contraceptive is stopped, and return to fertility is not assured.  
  2. These drugs have a wide range of side effects, which require effective administration and monitoring, which is hardly available for the poor women in rural areas. Once administered, they cannot be removed even if ill effects are noted. The condition of the health delivery system in our country being what it is, especially in the rural areas,  introduction of such drugs through the public health system is an open invitation to disaster;
  3. Being provider controlled, there is tremendous potential for abuse, especially in the context of a government-run population control programme.
  4. The danger of HIV AIDS infections also increases since these injectables would be used widely, in potentially unsafe conditions.

In such a context, the Govt must refrain from taking a step that can seriously jeopardize the health and well being of thousand of women. The Govt must focus instead on the unmet need for safe and effective contraception, which would include choices like barrier methods and non invasive procedures.

We demand that the Govt should immediately put a stop to any such proposals, and make sure that the health interests of the women of this country are safeguarded.