Women in 69 of the world’s poorest countries will have access to an injectable contraceptive shot priced at just $1.
The move to expand access to the contraceptive was announced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the Children’s Investment Fund last week.
Sayana Press, the official name of the injection system, will be sold to registered purchasers, enabling some of the poorest women in the world to buy the device at a reduced cost or receive it free.
The contraceptive is based on technology that was used to give Hepatitis B inoculations in Indonesia and was first used for contraception in Burkina Faso.
The single-use, prefilled, non-reusable device cuts the risk of infection due to needle sharing and is effective for three months.
Its simplicity means health workers can easily administer it in a range of settings, including in rural homes.
Dr Chris Elias, head of the global development programme at the Gates Foundation said: “When women are able to plan their families, they are more likely to survive pregnancy and child birth, to have healthier newborns and children, and to invest more in their families’ health and wellbeing.
He added: “We are proud to be part of this innovative public-private collaboration that will help more women around the world - even in remote areas - plan their lives and their futures.”
Among women in developing countries, injectable contraceptives are a widely-used family planning method - in poorer countries the lifetime risk of death due to a maternal cause can be as high as one in 15.
Justine Green, the International Development Secretary, said: “Access to modern, safe and reliable family planning methods is vital in helping women to control their lives and their futures.
“Without the ability to choose when they have children and how many they have, too often women lose the opportunity to participate fully in their economies and societies.”
The announcement comes as the Gates Foundation released its annual letter, in which Bill Gates wrote that the idea that saving lives will lead to overpopulation is a myth.
Instead, he said that basic health, prosperity, equality and access to contraceptives were essential to secure a sustainable world.Reuse content