After fighting women’s rights groups for years, India is eventually moving out injectable contraceptives

Indian women produce an unfair burden as it pertains to contraception and reproductive health.

Indian women produce an unfair burden as it pertains to contraception and reproductive health.

Together with the culture of shame that surrounds thus, and sex sexual health, and the still-limited accessibility to healthcare, girls frequently fight to make educated choices about contraceptives. So, while basic comprehension continues to be on the rise, use stays restricted. Merely around 39% of all Indian women use modern methods of contraception for example sterilisation, intra-uterine devices, as well as the birth control pill, based on data from Family Planning 2020, a global organisation focused on contraception and reproductive health.

Female sterilisation remains the most popular choice. The process is offered free of charge by government-run camps, but even gross human rights violations and neglect have regularly led to fatal results.

That could explain why the number is now increasing of free-of-cost procedures available under its long-running family planning program to add DPMA, or injectable contraceptives featuring the drug depot medroxyprogesterone acetate. Presently, the program offers condoms, IUDs, male and female sterilisation, and pills at no cost.

On Nov. 25, the government declared that it'd roll out the injectables in stages, beginning with medical colleges and district hospitals.

Injectable contraceptives already are popular across Africa and Latin America, and they’re additionally offered in the US and Europe, though girls there mostly favour the pill. By releasing the hormone progestin into the body which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the mucous layer across the cervix to block sperm from getting through, the injectables work. The shots should be taken once every three months, generally on the buttocks or the upper arm.

In India, however, injectables have a history that is controversial. They have been available since 1995 through NGOs and private practitioners, but their inclusion in the national family planning scheme was delayed because of intense resistance from girls' rights groups.

An unpopular choice

For many years, Indian women’s rights activists’ chief concerns were that the drugs used in injectables hadn’t been sufficiently and fairly analysed in India and that the side-effects, including an increased risk of osteoporosis, irregular periods, headaches, nausea, and much more, were a real threat to women.

The conflict commenced in 1986 (pdf) when groups for example Stree Shakti Sanghatana and Saheli filed a case against the government, the Drugs Controller of India, the Indian Council of Medical Research, and others to prevent trials of NET-EN, an injectable drug from Germany. They claimed that the drug posed serious security issues and challenged the ethical standards of the trials, besides pointing out that injectables would need long-term follow-ups and counselling, which may barely be guaranteed if the drug was comprised beneath the national family planning scheme.

In India, DPMA received marketing approval in 1993 and activists started to push back against this drug, too.

By 1995, their protests had prompted India’s Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) to urge that DPMA injectables not be properly used in the national family planning program, though they could be utilised in the private sector where girls were believed to have better access to information about its consequences.

The court cases for both NET-EN and DPMA came to finish between 2000 and 2001, with no ban on their use. Over the next couple of years, the health and government ministry held test- workshops and runs linked to injectable contraceptives, with all the ultimate purpose of including those in the family planning scheme after additional trials confirmed their security for large-scale use. This despite the continuing resistance from girls' rights groups.

“Girls' reproductive health has always been contentious and has had a fraught history, plagued by problems of ethics, authorization, as well as the entrenched vested interests of global pharma companies and developed countries,” Mukta Prabha, a volunteer with girls' rights organisation Women Power Connect, told The Wire. “So so that women can make informed choices we have to tread with care on DPMA, and their health isn’t undermined.”

Last year, the ministry finally received DTAB acceptance and began work on.

But so far, the authorities' efforts on reproductive health have mainly focused on women. Male sterilisation, as an example, accounts for just 1% of modern contraceptives used in India while condoms account for around 12%. When it comes to birth control, the side-effects and risks to girls are not unreal, but as the injectables’ history shows that are contentious, India, like other parts of the whole world, has a long way to go before women can truly be free to select what happens to their bodies.