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Fewer Women Use Emergency Contraceptives   
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Most women in many developing countries, have never heard of or used emergency contraceptive pills, two decades after its introduction, a study reveals.

The study, “Knowledge and Use of Emergency Contraception: A Multicountry Analysis,” was undertaken by a team of researchers led by Dr Tia Palermo of Stony Brook University and released to the GNA.

It said although the method could help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, in every country surveyed, fewer than 50 percent of women have ever heard of it and fewer than six percent have ever used the pill.

In general, the more educated women were or the wealthier they were, the more likely they were to have known about or used emergency contraception.

The researchers analysed national survey data from 2000–2010 of women aged 15–49 in 45 countries in four geographical regions.

It said women’s knowledge and use of the method varied widely within each region.

In Africa, women’s awareness of emergency contraception ranged from two percent in Chad to 40 percent in Kenya and use ranged from less than 0.1 percent in Chad to four percent in Ghana.

Wide ranges in knowledge and use were also seen in the other three regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, Colombia had the highest proportions of women who knew about the method (66 percent) and had used it (12 percent), while Haiti had the lowest (13 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively).

In Asia, awareness ranged from four percent of women in Timor-Leste to 29 percent in the Maldives, and use ranged from a low of 0.1 percent (Cambodia, Nepal and Timor-Leste) to 0.9 percent (Pakistan).

In Eastern Europe and West Asia, Ukraine had the highest rates of awareness and use (49 percent and six percent, respectively), while Azerbaijan had the lowest (five and 0.5 percent).

According to the authors, rates of emergency contraception use in the countries studied tended to be much lower than in countries where the method has been on the market longer, such as France and the United States (17 percent and 11 percent, respectively).

The exceptionally high levels of knowledge and use found in Colombia, reflect, among other things, a commercial sector that makes nine brands of emergency contraceptive pills easily available.

The authors recommend that family planning programs place a greater focus on disseminating information about emergency contraception, especially to women with lower income and less education.

They also recommend that governments, donors and NGOs ensure that a range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception, are available at public health facilities.
Source: GNA

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