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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora