Perspectives from Africa,
engagement from Finland

Understanding Africa

Representing Africans


Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Improving access to birth control

Since September 2012, an international initiative has begun to effect improved access to long-lasting and reliable birth control to African women - as it has to women in Asia and the Americas. The initiative employs a Finnish innovation - a contraceptive implant called Jadelle - which is inserted underneath the skin of the upper arm. Protection from pregnancy is provided within 24 hours, when insertion is performed during the first week of a woman's menstrual cycle. The woman rapidly returns to her normal fertility when the implants are removed. Because Jadelle contains no estrogen, the most common side effects are changes in menstrual bleeding patterns. Most other common side effects are similar to those experienced by women who use other hormonal contraceptives.

The funding partners of the initiative include Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Governments of UK, Sweden and the United States, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and Bayer group - with key support from Finland, which funds sexual and reproductive health issues mainly through the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and international and Finnish NGOs. Finland's Minister for International Development, Heidi Hautala, said, "The initiative improves access to contraceptives and therefore provides options for women and girls. Safe contraceptive methods reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, and empower women to decide on their own body."Jadelle is inserted underneath the skin of the upper arm

Too early and unwanted pregnancies are a key reason for maternal and infant mortality. Young people, especially, should have better access to family planning services and information. Even though provision of reproductive health services has grown nearly all over the world in the past decades with greater focus on quality, the poorest are often excluded. Furthermore, things are not improving fast enough. Every day over 800 girls and women die as a result.

"Health services for women and girls are very much about human rights and equality; issues that Finland has persistently driven in the UN and the EU, for example," Minister Hautala said.

"This type of long-lasting and inconspicuous contraceptive method is indeed ideal in many developing countries, where access to health services is bad and the status of women is often poor," Hautala said. ”The initiative itself is a good example of how businesses can contribute to global development efforts.”

The initiative is well in support of UN Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child strategy and the YK Millennium Goals. Access to contraceptives was among the topics in the London Summit on Family Planning in July 2012, where Finland was one of active participants. At the Summit, donors made financial commitments to support family planning and sexual and reproductive health amounting to US$4.6bn.