APSN Banner

Access to sexual and reproductive services still has a long way to go: IPPF

Jakarta Globe - February 7, 2024

Ashlynn Hannah, Jakarta – Within the Southeast Asia Region, Indonesia has the highest birth rates among adolescent females from the ages of 15 to 19 according to a research report on adolescent pregnancy in West Java and Central Sulawesi published in the United States National Library of Medicine on Oct. 27, 2023.

A call to address the high rate of pregnancies among adolescents was seen at the Regional Policy Dialogue event in Oct. 2023 to create policy discussion around unintended pregnancies in Southeast Asia.

The event was convened by the International Planned Parenthood Federation East Southeast Asia and Oceania Region (IPPF ESEAOR), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, PLAN International, and Organon.

"We must work to ensure every individual has appropriate knowledge and access to affordable contraceptive services in their hands," said Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director of IPPF ESEAOR, last week.

Fukuda told the Jakarta Globe the importance of addressing these high rates of unintended pregnancies starts with policymakers and goes all the way to discussions around contraceptive measures in communities.

The 2023 Contraceptive Policy Atlas was officially launched by the IPPF a month later in Nov. 2023 at the 7th Asian and Pacific Population Conference. The Atlas was created to provide insight into reproductive rights and contraception access in the Asia Pacific Region.

With the data collected for all 43 countries in the region, including Indonesia, IPPF ESEAOR hopes the findings can empower advocates and policymakers to address the high rate of unintended pregnancies occurring.

While Indonesia has developed a national strategy to prevent child marriage, the importance of collaboration with organizations such as IPPF ESEAOR is instrumental in effectively addressing the issues of access to contraceptives and education.

"We are hopeful that the national strategy and the work of various stakeholders will serve to accelerate contraceptive use to curb the rate of unintended pregnancies," she emphasized.

In 2021, the efforts of IPPF's strategies in bringing sexual reproductive health services, contraception, and abortion care resulted in the prevention of 272,686 unintended pregnancies and stopped 39,508 unsafe abortions from occurring.

Global healthcare company Organon was also involved in the Regional Policy Dialogue and has initiated a program committed to reducing unplanned pregnancies through access to education, contraception, and training, called the Her Promise Access Initiative.

"(The) program is committed to preventing an estimated 120 million unintended pregnancies by 2030 by providing 100 million girls and women in low and middle-income countries, including Indonesia, with affordable access to contraceptive options," says Andreas Daugaard Jorgensen, Managing Director of the SouthEast Asia Cluster at Organon, last week.

By the end of 2022, the initiative was almost halfway towards meeting its goal, with 57 million unintended pregnancies prevented.

Jorgensen stated governments across the Asia-Pacific region need to put young women at the center of creating policies and agendas when it concerns their sexual and reproductive health.

"It is important for governments to establish an integrated, multi-sectoral rights-based policy framework that aims to directly address social and other determinants of health, in combination with the gender inequalities adolescent girls face," says Jorgensen.

Organon's reach has been seen in Southeast countries such as Vietnam where they have an agreement with the Government Office of Population and Family Planning to improve education on contraceptives for young women.

The common use of contraceptives in Indonesia only increased by 1.5 percent between the years of 2007 and 2017 according to the Indonesian Family Planning Census 2021. The prevalence and high rate of pregnancies among adolescents will continue to occur as long as there is little to no access to safe contraceptives, as well as a lack of education about sexual and reproductive health.

In Indonesia, one out of nine females are married by the time they turn 18, and around two-thirds of these girls are pregnant with their first child by the same age, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). The Indonesian government has tried to deter child marriage by introducing legislation that raised the marriageable age from 16 to 19, yet a religious court can still grant an exemption that will allow marriage from any age.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/lifestyle/access-to-sexual-and-reproductive-services-still-has-a-long-way-to-go-ipp