For immediate release
Thursday, 8th June 2023: As a new Channel 4 documentary presented by Davina McCall raises awareness about the state of contraception in the UK, we can’t forget the 257 million women around the world who want to avoid pregnancy but still have no access to modern, safe methods.
The introduction of the oral contraceptive pill in the 1960s represents one of the most significant medical advances of the twentieth century. “The pill”, along with subsequent forms of hormonal and nonhormonal contraception, gave women control over their own fertility and ignited a social revolution allowing women to plan their families and enter the workforce.
But today, many in the UK are still not offered the full range of options, and around the world 257 million women and adolescents who wanted to avoid pregnancy are not using contraception.
Simphiwe Sesane, Contraceptive and Sexual Health Nurse Consultant at MSI Reproductive Choices UK, who appears alongside Davina in the documentary said:
“Finding the right contraception is life changing, yet too many still struggle to get the information and support they need about the full range of methods. All too often I speak to people who have become pregnant while on contraception waiting lists or because they felt they had no option but to come off their method due to side-effects. It’s frustrating when there are many alternatives that might be better suited to them.
“The same issues affect women around the world. Despite contraception being one of the cheapest and most effective life-saving, poverty-ending, empowering innovations we have, around the world 257 million women and girls who want to avoid pregnancy, still can’t get it. It’s time to complete the contraception revolution and make reproductive choice a reality for all.”
Closing the gap
According to Public Health England figures, every £1 invested in contraception saves £9. Yet since 2015, there have been major cuts to these services, with the public health grant to local councils to fund sexual health services reduced by over £1bn (24%). The lack of access to contraception has been further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis and at MSI, we have seen the number of people seeking abortion care at our UK clinics rise by nearly a third (29%) compared to the same time last year. (Jan-June)
There are also huge disparities in contraceptive access around the world. Younger women have the highest levels of unmet need with 43.2 million women aged 15-24 unable to access contraception, despite being the group for whom the economic and social benefits of contraceptive access are likely to be most substantially. There are also major geographic inequalities – while 87.9% have access in Norway, only 1.9% do in South Sudan and across sub-Saharan Africa, one in five sexually active women who want to avoid becoming pregnant are not able to access modern contraception.
Sanou Gning, Senior Country Director at MSI Reproductive Choices said:
“Working across Africa, I have seen the consequences when contraception is not available. I’ve seen women dying in childbirth, mutilating their bodies or risking their lives with backstreet abortions. In the UK, contraceptive use has plateaued around 66% over the last 10 years. In east Africa, if current trends continue, it will take another 44 years to reach that level. While in west Africa, where I am from, the same rates will not be achieved for 108 years. That’s the year 2131.
“Access matters: it improves lives and communities and helps break cycles of poverty. With women and girls facing the brunt of daunting global challenges such as inequality and the impact of the climate crisis, we have a long road ahead of us. But it only costs us 2 pence per day to protect a young woman from an unintended pregnancy, giving her the chance to stay in school, forge a career, support her family or even save her life and we are determined that, alongside our partners, we will leave no-one behind.”
Notes to Editors
For interviews and further information please contact:
Tel: (+44) 07769 166 516
About MSI Reproductive Choices
MSI is a global organisation providing contraception and safe abortion services to women and girls in 37 countries. We believe that everyone should have the right to determine their own future, and the high-quality services we provide give them the power to pursue their dreams for themselves and their families.