104 million women have unmet modern contraceptive needs – Research

A total of 104 million women in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Central Asia and Southeast Asia have unmet needs for modern contraceptive due to method-related reasons.

The number will increase to 161 million in the next four decades if concerns about the available methods are not addressed, according to Guttmacher, a US research institute.

The researchers noted that there was lack of attention and resources dedicated to contraceptive research and development, hence a vital need to reinvigorate the field.

It said seven out of 10 women in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the affore-mentioned jurisdictions, who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraceptives, report reasons for non-use that indicated that available methods do not satisfy their needs.

The findings suggested that substantially bringing down unintended pregnancy rates in these developing regions would require increased investment in the development of new methods that better address women’s concerns and life circumstances.

The report, “Contraceptive Technology: Responding To Women’s Needs”, focuses on the three regions that together account for the majority of women in the developing world with an unmet need for contraception.

About 49 million of the overall 40 per cent pregnancies in these regions are unintended. Each year, these pregnancies result in 21 million unplanned births, an equal number of abortions (three-quarters of which are unsafe) and 116,000 maternal deaths.

“The findings make clear that meeting the need for contraception requires not only increased access and counselling, but the development of new methods that better meet women’s needs,” says Jacqueline E. Darroch, Senior Fellow at the Guttmacher Institute and one of the study’s authors.

To gain insight into why so many women in developing countries are not using modern contraceptives, researchers analysed nationally representative data from demographic and health surveys and other sources.

They found out that the majority of women with an unmet need for contraception are 25 or older and live in rural areas, and about four in 10 are poor.

The reasons women most frequently give for not using a method are concerns about health risks or side effects (23 per cent); infrequent sex (21 per cent); being postpartum or breast-feeding (17 per cent); and opposition from their partners (10 per cent).

The findings shed light on the types of methods that could have the greatest impact on increasing contraceptive use: Developing new contraceptive methods that have negligible side effects, are appropriate for breast-feeding women and could be used on demand and has the potential to greatly reduce unmet need for contraception and methods that women can use without their partner’s knowledge.

The report shows that overcoming method-related reasons for contraceptive non-use could reduce unintended pregnancy by as much as 59 per cent in these regions. Unintended births and induced abortions could be reduced by similar proportions, and 70,000 maternal deaths could be prevented.

However, the researchers noted that new contraceptive methods alone would not overcome all reasons for non-use. Other causes, including poor access to and quality of contraceptive services must also be addressed.

In addition to long-term work to develop new contraceptive methods, they pointed out that adaptations to current methods could make them more widely acceptable and easier to use.

They concluded that immediate headway toward satisfying unmet need could be made by ensuring that women and couples receive more accurate information about the risk of unintended pregnancy and have greater access to quality counselling and services that offer a range of methods.

The report was funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation and made available to the Ghana News Agency.
Source: GNA

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