News / Health

New Contraception Guidelines Issued

In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, migrant villagers gather to attend the awareness and service camp under National Rural Health Mission at a very remote Baralakhaiti village on the sandbars of River Brahmaputra, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Gauhati, India.
In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, migrant villagers gather to attend the awareness and service camp under National Rural Health Mission at a very remote Baralakhaiti village on the sandbars of River Brahmaputra, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Gauhati, India.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on WHO contraception guidelines

Joe DeCapua
The World Health Organization says human rights must be respected and protected when women seek contraception services. The WHO has issued new guidelines for policymakers and healthcare providers in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8.


The WHO estimates over 220 million women are not able to meet their needs for modern contraception. It says many are among the most vulnerable, including the poor, those living with HIV and women displaced by conflict or other causes.

Dr. Marleen Temmerman is an obstetrician and director of the WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research.

“It’s the first time that there is a guidance from the WHO where human rights is actually in the title – and not only in the title, but also in the content of the guidelines. We have guidelines for contraceptive use from the medical perspective looking at what is safe – what are the medical eligibility criteria – what [are] the contraindications and so on. But now we have worked towards ensuring human rights in the contraceptive guidelines,” she said.

The WHO has been developing the guidelines for the past year.

“We want to make sure that the human rights principles, such as acceptability, accessibility, affordability, choice, informed consent are high in the guidelines,” she said.

The guidelines recommend providing sexual and reproductive health services to women and girls, including family planning information and contraceptive methods.

Dr. Temmerman said that access to contraception has risen on the political agenda in recent years.

“If you look at the Millennium Development Goals, number five is to reduce maternal mortality. And that of course is linked to better care, better antenatal care, better delivery care, but also to the rights of a woman to decide when she will get pregnant – how many children she wants.”

She said millions of women must seek permission of their husbands to use contraception, while adolescent girls need permission from their parents or guardians. Many adolescent boys also lack access to modern contraception.

Temmerman said women and girls often have no power in deciding whether to become pregnant.

“Many women are coerced in their decision to be pregnant or not to be pregnant by their family, their father, the mother, the husband, the mother-in-law, the society, the community, by cultural and religious obstacles. But sometimes also by the governments, who are forcing tubal ligation, forcing sterilization onto some women and not giving access to others,” she said.

She added that teenage girls – who become pregnant – may face severe risks. The WHO estimates 16 million girls between 15 and 19 give birth each year. Nearly all the births are in low and middle income countries.

“We see a lot of pregnancy complications in adolescents that are really leading to a lot of mortality and morbidity, so a huge health burden,” said Temmerman.

The WHO reports some of the problems associated with negative outcomes for adolescent pregnancies include hemorrhaging, obstetric fistula, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and mental disorders, such as depression.

Dr. Temmerman said countries where women and girls have access to modern contraception often fare better overall than countries that do not.

“I think what we have to do is to look at statistics. Those countries -- which are providing sexuality education and information to the population and to the youth in the schools – those countries which are providing adolescents and women-friendly services – have the lowest figures of unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality and so on. So, health wise they do much better.”

She said besides the health benefits of investing in reproductive services, countries benefit economically by having a more productive workforce.

The new WHO guidelines say sexual and reproductive health services should help ensure “fully-informed decision-making and respect dignity, autonomy, privacy and confidentiality and be sensitive to individual needs.”

You May Like

AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa; Ban Ki-moon welcomes decision to form a five-nation force More

Mass Protests Held for 58 Killed in Pakistani Shi'ite Mosque Bombing

Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets across Pakistan Saturday to protest a powerful bomb blast at a mosque in Sindh province during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people More

Williams Wins Australian Open with Straight-Set Victory over Sharapova

The win is Serena Williams' sixth in Australia, and her 19th overall Grand Slam title More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid