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London, July 11, 2012—Public and private partners today announced plans to collaborate to reach approximately three million women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia from 2013–2016 with up to 12 million doses of an injectable contraceptive at affordable price levels. The partnership includes the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Pfizer, PATH, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Initial countries interested in taking part include Senegal and Nigeria.
The announcement, made today at the London Summit on Family Planning, is part of a new, coordinated effort to ensure that voluntary family planning services reach an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries by 2020. More than 150 leaders from donor and developing countries, international agencies, civil society, foundations, and the private sector also pledged their support to improving access to family planning information, services, and supplies.
“Working with local partners in Africa and South Asia, we have learned that many women want to use injectable contraceptives but simply cannot get access to them,” said PATH President and CEO Steve Davis. “This program, including PATH's field studies, will ensure effective family planning tools reach women who need them while saving women valuable time and resources that it would otherwise take to reach a clinic."
The product prevents pregnancy for three months with a single injection using the prefilled, autodisable Uniject™ device. In addition to delivering the product, partners are planning to provide complementary family planning information and services to help expand choice and access for the poorest women and hard-to-reach communities.
“Every woman, no matter how rich or poor, should have access to her preferred method of contraception to determine the number and timing of her children,” said Chris Elias, president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This innovative partnership will bring modern contraceptive technology to women living in some of the world’s most remote regions.”
Injectable contraception is a popular form of contraception among women in developing countries. In some places, women must return to a clinic every three months for a new injection from a skilled health worker, or to a health post to be served by a community health worker, limiting access in remote and other hard-to-reach areas. The proposed contraceptive’s unique delivery system makes it more portable than many other options, allowing injections to be provided by health workers to women at home or in other convenient settings.
The contraceptive product combines a reformulation of Pfizer’s Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone acetate) contraceptive with the Uniject injection system, originally developed by PATH with support from USAID, which allows the contraceptive to be administered via subcutaneous injection.*
Under the partnership, Pfizer is currently seeking approval from the relevant authorities in European and African states. Subject to these approvals, the product could be registered and available in initial countries in sub-Saharan Africa by mid-2013.
Enrico Liggeri, Pfizer’s Country Lead, Nigeria, East Africa Regions, said: “Pfizer is committed to increasing access in developing countries to its portfolio of reproductive health products. While the industry can take the lead in developing products suited to the needs of the market, it is largely through innovative Private Public Partnerships instead of donations alone that we can ensure the long term viability of the supply and distribution, and at the same time the sustainability of education toward healthier reproductive lifestyles.”
Research is currently underway that is expected to inform the rollout, including studies to better understand women’s and providers’ acceptability of the product. The research will also provide important guidance for the introduction of the method at country, community, facility, and local levels, including training on counseling and injection delivery, delivery logistics, and waste management.
"Access to modern contraception is crucial to helping the millions of poor women who want to be able to decide when, whether and how many children to have. Britain is working with the private sector to find innovative solutions that will enable women to make the decisions about their families which many of us take for granted," said Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for the UK's Department for International Development.
“USAID provided more than 15 years of technical oversight and funding support to advance this technology,” noted USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “This product is one of a number that we are supporting that expand contraceptive method choice, respond to women’s needs, and help make methods more accessible to more than 200 million women in the poorest countries of the world who lack adequate access to contraceptives.”
* Depo-Provera is an intramuscular contraception. This reformulation and device deliver the contraceptive subcutaneously.
For more information on the introduction of this product, visit http://www.path.org/projects/uniject-dmpa.php.
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
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The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK government’s effort to fight global poverty. DFID’s overall aim is to reduce poverty in poorer countries, in particular through achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This will be done by honouring the UK’s international commitments; making British aid more effective by improving transparency and value for money; leading international action to improve the lives of girls and women; strengthening governance and security in fragile and conflict-affected countries; boosting wealth creation; and driving urgent action to tackle climate change.
For further information, please contact the DFID press office: +44 020 7023 0600.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) oversees and implements international development programs for the U.S. government. USAID’s work in development joins diplomacy and defense as one of three key pieces of the nation’s foreign policy apparatus. USAID promotes peace and stability by fostering economic growth, protecting human health, providing emergency humanitarian assistance, and enhancing democracy in developing countries. These efforts to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide represent U.S. values and advance U.S. interests for peace and prosperity. USAID provides assistance in sub- Saharan Africa, Asia and the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Eurasia. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., USAID’s strength is its field offices in many regions of the world.
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UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
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PATH is an international nonprofit organization that transforms global health through innovation. PATH takes an entrepreneurial approach to developing and delivering high-impact, low-cost solutions, from lifesaving vaccines and devices to collaborative programs with communities. Through its work in more than 70 countries, PATH and its partners empower people to achieve their full potential. For more information, please visit www.path.org
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