As the world observes World Contraception Day, the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) salutes the game changers across the Caribbean and worldwide, who have worked tirelessly to advance universal access to contraceptives. Studies in our region indicate that an alarming 70-80% of women report their last or current pregnancy as unplanned, underscoring the urgency of the region’s contraceptive challenge. The struggle continues with critical attention to the intersection of reproductive health, gender equity, and informed choice.
According to Dr Rosmond Adams, CFPA Board President, “World Contraception Day is a celebration of autonomy – a reminder that every pregnancy should be a result of choice, not chance. It underscores the importance of providing individuals, especially vulnerable women and girls with education and access to take control of their future. It is a day of reflection, reaffirming the inherent right to make informed decisions about our own bodies and reproductive future.”
The transition from short-term methods like pills and condoms to longer-lasting options such as injectables, intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs), patches, and implants represents a contraceptive evolution. We should actively encourage this transition, especially among couples in their mid-20s.
The CFPA continues to build on its legacy of promoting universal access and translating knowledge into action. Even when methods like the condom are known by approximately 85% of the population, only around 30% have ever used it, and less than 6% report current usage. A similar pattern is observed with the pill, where knowledge hovers around 80%, actual usage remains around 25%, and current use stands at a mere 2%. Encouragingly, the injectable method shows promise, with knowledge at 70%, around 25% having used it at some point, and 17% currently utilizing it. This discrepancy underscores the significance of accessibility, user-friendliness and convenience in contraceptive choices.
In the spirit of CFPA’s advocacy and promotion of access to vulnerable populations, we confront a persistent and unjust reality: the disproportionate burden of contraception has for far too long rested on the shoulders of women. The act of conception, however, is a shared journey, a responsibility that transcends gender lines.
“It is time to shed the archaic notion that contraception is solely a women’s issue and take into critical consideration, the influential role of men and boys, in shaping the course of unplanned pregnancies. It is important to invest in SRH education of men and boys and involve them in prevention of unwanted pregnancy.” CEO, Rev. Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth.
Unplanned pregnancies have far-reaching consequences. They have the potential to perpetuate cycles of inequality, setting the stage for generational hardships and disparities. Further, studies have shown that unwanted pregnancies – not just unplanned ones – often exacerbate the risk of vulnerability of children – poor childcare, abuse and neglect, which often lead to violence and criminal involvement. Contraception needs to be understood as crucial for community welfare.