War in Ukraine: European Parliament calls to ensure access to emergency contraception for women throughout conflict and displacement.

May 2022. On May 5th, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that strongly condemns the use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) call on the EU and host and transit countries to guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services, particularly emergency contraception, post-exposure prophylaxis and abortion care, including for survivors of rape.

The resolution notes the challenges of accessing EC in countries with restrictive policies such as Hungary and Poland.

“T. (…) women require access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services including contraception, emergency contraception, legal and safe abortion care, antenatal care and skilled assistance during childbirth; (…) access to emergency contraception is severely hampered by barriers in Poland and Hungary, due to prescription requirements; (…) in the case of Poland, Romania and Slovakia there are economic barriers in accessing such fundamental sexual and reproductive health and rights services as they are not covered by public health insurance or subsidy schemes, resulting in significant cost barriers as refugees have to pay the full cost out of pocket or seek help from local civil society organisations to cover the costs for them; (…).”

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, approximately 5 million refugees have fled from Ukraine to the EU; an estimated 90 % of the refugees are women and children. A further 7,1 million people have been displaced internally within Ukraine.

Read the full resolution here or download it from here.

Emergency contraception for Ukraine

April 2022. Emergency contraception (EC) was available in Ukraine before the invasion by the Russian Federation, but due to the conflict supply chains have been disrupted. EC is an essential reproductive health supply. The only contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy after rape, EC is part of the first line care that must be provided to survivors of sexual violence.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Health, UN agencies and civil society organisations are working together to identify the changing needs in the area of reproductive health, and articulate rapid responses. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund, led efforts to supply of emergency contraception pills.

Read more on BBC News and The Guardian.

 

 

Launch of the State of World Population 2022 report

March 2022. The neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy is the subject of UNFPA’s flagship 2022 State of World Population report, released on March 30, 2022. Titled “Seeing the Unseen,” the report examines how such pregnancies represent a global failure to uphold basic human rights.

Nearly half of all pregnancies, totalling 121 million each year throughout the world, are unintended. For the women and girls affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice—whether or not to become pregnant—is no choice at all.

The number is expected to rise with population growth if we don’t take decisive action.  Myths about unintended pregnancy contribute to the shame, stigma and misunderstandings that must be overcome to end this crisis.

The full report is available in several languages, here.

 

Ukraine: urgent Call to Action

March, 2022. An urgent Call to Action has been issued by over 60 global and national organizations from Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine, calling on decision makers in Europe and internationally, to act swiftly to protect the human rights and address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls and marginalized populations affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

The Call includes very specific and explicit demands regarding emergency contraception (EC). Specifically, the call demands to ensure that:

  • assistance includes coverage for the costs of menstrual hygiene products, emergency contraception and other contraceptive methods, and abortion care;
  • inter-agency reproductive health kits include emergency contraception, and are included in humanitarian packages;
  • financial assistance includes coverage for the costs of menstrual hygiene products, emergency contraception and other contraceptive methods, and abortion care;
  • ensure that emergency contraception can be provided without a prescription and free of charge without delay to all those fleeing Ukraine, including by moving national policies on emergency contraception into line with international and regional best practice and European Union guidelines.

The Call to Action is available in English here, and in Hungarian, Polish, Romanian and Slovak from the Center for Reproductive Rights website.

The European Consortium for Emergency Contraception has subscribed this demand to the international community to make sure that all humanitarian response plans, financing and assistance integrate actions designed to address the sexual and reproductive health of all women and girls and marginalized populations in Ukraine and in transit and refugee host countries, including in European Union member states.

Over-the-counter provision of EC pills is feasible

March 2022.  A new systematic review of over-the-counter (OTC) provision of emergency contraception pills (ECPs), concludes that it is feasible and acceptable, and that it may increase access to and timely use of effective contraception. Evidence suggests that OTC provision of ECPs do not substantively change reproductive health outcomes. This review expands the evidence supporting ECPs as a self-care intervention.

In Europe, the most prevalent modality of ECPs delivery is pharmacy access (also called “behind-the-counter”): ECPs are bought without a prescription but an interaction with the pharmacy’ staff is required.  This interaction varies significantly from country to country and often within countries too [read more here]. Only in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands ECPs are available directly on store shelves (OTC). This is review is very valuable for Europe, and we hope this  evidence will be used to drive policy changes on EC access.

Access the full review here. And learn more about UPA and LNG ECPs delivery modality in different European countries here.

An update on access to EC in Europe: New publication by ECEC

February 2022. Since 2012, the European Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ECEC) monitors emergency contraception (EC) availability and accessibility in Europe, and maintains a country-by-country database to generate and disseminate knowledge. This open-access database is regularly updated thanks to the collaboration of partners and local experts to whom we want to express our deepest gratitude.

ECEC now issues An update on access to emergency contraception in Europe. This publication summarizes EC availability in Europe up to December 2021and covers all European countries expect Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of Kosovo, San Marino, Turkmenistan and the Vatican City State. The previous edition was published in April 2016.

For more information about a specific country, visit the country-by-country section of our website. Contact us at ecec [at] eeirh [dot] org if you believe that information about your country is inaccurate or outdated. This fact sheet can be found online at the Publications section of our website.

 

 

 

Council of Europe urges Malta to improve availability of emergency contraception

February 2022. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights strongly urges Maltese authorities to improve the availability of sexual and reproductive health services. In her report, published on February 15, Commissioner Dunja Mijatović notes that numerous pharmacies refuse to dispense EC on grounds of conscience, and that there are no measures in place to enforce the obligation pharmacists have to refer patients to other professionals.

Read paragraph 85, and recommendations 96 and 97 of the report to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Contraception Atlas 2022

February 2022. On February 9th, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF) launched the fifth edition of the European Contraception Policies Atlas. Members of the European Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld and Fred Matic, chaired the event.

The Contraception Atlas scores 46 countries on access to online information about modern contraception, and access to contraceptive counseling and supplies. In addition, this year the Atlas also factors in reimbursement policies for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) and for young people.

Hon. MEP Mr Matic remarked that “Affordable and accessible contraception is a basic right for all in a modern democracy.” The Atlas is an excellent tool for advocates striving to advance national contraceptive policies. The European Consortium for Emergency Contraception is proud to have participated in this year’s Expert Group.

Click here to find out why Belgium, France and the United Kingdom are tie on the first position, or why Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia and Poland come out as the worst performing States.  And visit EPF’s website to learn more.

UK: Lower prices for LNG EC

February 2022. In the United Kingdom, a big pharmacy retailer announced that  LNG EC pills will be sold at £10 (around 12€). This is similar to the price it offered as part of last years’ Black Friday discounts. Visit bpas Twitter to learn more about their long-term campaign to make EC pills, an essential reproductive health supply, more affordable to all in the UK.
Furthermore, according to the magazine Chemist+Druggist, other pharmacy chains have  lowered the cost of their LNG generic. Representatives from one of these chains expressed “support to the renewed focus within this area.” Read more here.