Today, September 26th, is World Contraception Day (WCD). Now in its ninth year, WCD envisions a world where every pregnancy is wanted and women are empowered with the resources and knowledge to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Part of the larger Family Planning 2020 mission, WCD takes a multi-faceted approach to women’s health, encouraging increased sexual education, improved access to health care services, and eliminating challenges to cultural taboos based on myth or misconception.
As women’s health care providers, this mission aligns with our everyday efforts. We counsel and educate our patients, helping their personal and professional goals align with their sexual and reproductive choices. Empowering women with choice and control over their contraceptive choices and family planning leads to happy and healthy individuals and families.
However, in too many instances women worldwide (and at home in the U.S.) continue to lack sufficient access to the care, education, and choices they need. Every year contraception prevents a staggering 188 million unplanned pregnancies globally, but yet, 10% of the women at greatest risk of unintended pregnancy are currently not using ANY contraception. As women’s health care providers, we have a responsibility to increase the number of our patients making active and deliberate choices about their sexual and reproductive choices.
As I mentioned above, WCD is a part of the larger Family Planning 2020 campaign. This campaign prioritizes the rights of women and girls to decide freely and independently whether, when, and how many children they want to have. ACOG supports this effort through our Office of Global Women’s Health (OGWH). Although education and access for patients is one part of the solution, we must also ensure that providers have the most up to date and comprehensive knowledge and tools to support their patients’ choices.
Through nine different programs, we are working in 21 countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Our efforts are varied from training local health care providers in operative obstetrics to implementing quality improvement initiatives, but all ultimately aim to lower rates of maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. In many instances, access and education about contraceptive choices are a critical component to lowering these outcomes, and are featured as core components of our programs.
There are numerous ways to be involved with ACOG’s international efforts. For more information, please visit www.acog.org/ogwh, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Likewise, if you’re interested in learning more about FP2020 or WCD, head to www.familyplanning2020.org.