|World Contraception Day 2020:|
Campaign calls for women to prioritize family planning, health despite COVID-19
· COVID-19 is posing an urgent threat to women’s health and empowerment by limiting access to family planning and healthcare services.
#HerHero campaign rallies key stakeholders across Asia Pacific to call for a wider support network of everyday heroes to champion and help women overcome the barriers in prioritizing their health
Representatives from the Population Council, the National Population & Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN), the Commission on Population and Development of the Philippines (POPCOM), the Federation of Obstetric Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), United Women Singapore (UWS), the Garden of Hope Foundation Taiwan, Doctor Anywhere and Bayer jointly pledged their commitment to empower women in making informed choices about family planning and their health
September 25, 2020 – This World Contraception Day, healthcare professionals, policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women influencers in Asia Pacific rally together to call for women to prioritize their health and their family planning needs, even during the pandemic. With COVID-19 posing an urgent threat to women’s health and ability to plan their families, Bayer today launched the #HerHero campaign to support women in taking action to prioritize their health and take charge of their lives. Women’s influencers and representatives from key organizations in Asia Pacific came together today at the #HerHero Virtual Forum on Health, Empowerment and Progress and jointly pledged their commitment to be ‘HerHeroes’, those who support and empower women in their communities to help them make informed choices. They also called for wider public support to join in the pledge and give voice to women’s health needs and empowerment.
The #HerHero virtual forum, organized by Bayer in collaboration with the Population Council, Doctor Anywhere, UWS and media partner Clozette, also marks the 60th anniversary of the contraceptive pill. It was attended by women’s advocates and family planning leaders including Dr. Ashish Bajracharya, Deputy Director, Country Strategy & Regional Representative, South & East Asia, Population Council, Dr. (H.C.) dr. Hasto Wardoyo, Sp.OG(K), Chairperson, BKKBN, Usec. Juan Antonio Perez III, Executive Director, POPCOM, Dr. Shobha Gudi, Chairperson of the Family Welfare Committee, FOGSI, Ms. Georgette Tan, President, UWS and Ms. Ping Rong Chen, representative of the Garden of Hope Foundation Taiwan.
Photo Credit: PharmaTimes
Despite the progress made in empowering women’s lives over the last 60 years, barriers still exist today, made worse by the current pandemic. Many women worldwide are losing access to health and family planning services due to COVID-19 restrictions, and are putting off face-to-face medical consultations for seeking professional advice due to fear of contracting the virus. The UN projects that more than 47 million women could lose access to contraception, leading to 7 million unplanned pregnancies in the coming months. These have lifelong health and socio-economic impact on women and their families.
“As the world responds to the COVID-19 crisis, women’s reproductive health and rights must be carefully safeguarded. We must continue to collaborate, innovate and work to ensure women have access to modern contraception and resources that enable them to make informed decisions about their futures,” said Ashish Bajracharya, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Country Strategy & Regional Representative, South & East Asia, Population Council.
Women’s health and family planning topics are not openly discussed in Asia, and women can find it hard to make informed decisions. The #HerHero campaign celebrates the everyday heroes – such as family, friends, pharmacists and doctors – who support women with a safe space to talk about such topics, and calls for the wider public to commit to also being ‘HerHero’ to the women in their networks. Amid the pandemic, digital platforms offer a new way for women to reach out to their heroes. Telemedicine is fast becoming a safe and convenient option for seeking medical consults on health and family planning matters, especially for individuals with COVID-19 safety concerns. The strong uptake of telemedicine in Asia Pacific in the recent months is here to stay, with consumers expecting to make greater use of digital health services in the next five years.
“Our commitment to women’s health drives us to empower women to make informed decisions about their health and family planning, with our innovative contraceptive portfolio and digital health initiatives targeted at improving contraception education,” said Catherine Donovan, Head of Medical Affairs, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division Asia Pacific. “Our new #HerHero campaign, which also commemorates 60 years since the invention of the contraceptive pill, underscores our efforts to safeguard and prioritize women’s health and needs, even during the pandemic. By sparking conversations about these issues and celebrating the people that empower women each day, we hope to rally support for women in caring for their health.”
Bayer is constantly innovating to find new ways to engage everyday women in taking control of their lives. By developing chatbots in Asian countries with a high unmet need in family planning education, and promoting engagement with the public on social media platforms, Bayer aims to bridge knowledge gaps by providing women easier access to reliable information on contraceptive options and reproductive health.
Across Asia Pacific, Bayer has been collaborating with governments and organizations to introduce initiatives that promote greater contraception awareness and education. This include its partnerships with the BKKBN in Indonesia, the POPCOM in the Philippines, the Department of Health’s Bureau of Reproductive Health in Thailand, and the Family Planning and Women’s Union (FPWU) and Government Office of Family Planning (GOPFP) in Vietnam. With the goal of achieving its “Health for all, Hunger for none” vision, Bayer will continue to invest in multi-stakeholder aid programs, with the ultimate goal of providing 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception methods by 2030.
- United Nations Population Fund. 28 April 2020. Press release: New UNFPA projections predict calamitous impact on women’s health as COVID-19 pandemic continues. Available at: https://www.unfpa.org/press/new-unfpa-projections-predict-calamitous-impact-womens-health-covid-19-pandemic-continues (Last accessed: 20 September 2020)
- Bain & Company, Covid-19 Accelerates the Adoption of Telemedicine in Asia-Pacific Countries, April 2020. Accessible at: https://www.bain.com/insights/covid-19-accelerates-the-adoption-of-telemedicine-in-asia-pacific-countries/ (Last accessed: 20 September 2020) Bryan Rivera