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Access to contraceptives improves the health, rights and economic status of women around the world, which is a fundamental basis for greater equality, education and prosperity for all.
When it comes to deciding on a method of contraception, a woman’s personal circumstances can play just as much of a role as personal preferences and medical indications. For example, reversible long-acting methods such as contraceptive implants or intrauterine systems are the most effective reversible contraceptive methods and more practical in regions where medical provision is patchy. This is because these usually do not require ongoing effort on the part of the patient for long-term and effective use once they have been put in place. The demand for long-acting methods is set to grow considerably in the coming years.
Three of the main ways we’re looking to increase access and ensure a continuous supply of contraceptives to those that need them include:
Expanding our production capacities: There is a global trend towards long-acting reversible contraceptive methods and in LMICs this trend is predominantly addressed by hormonal implants. Considering this, Bayer to invest over € 400 million in its facilities located in Turku and Costa Rica specifically for Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs). These investments in state-of-the-art facilities will enhance our capacity to produce and distribute LARCs, thereby supporting our mission of empowering women to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
Adapting pricing to local buying power: In LMICs that have a local pharmaceutical market but where contraceptives are still to be paid out-of-pocket, we are aiming to apply our equitable pricing approach, thereby providing more access for more patients. We’re also taking efforts to increase access to Hormonal IUSs which are largely underrepresented in LMICs, by working to make them available and affordable for all women who might benefit from their contraceptive or non-contraceptive use.
Expanding Strong and Successful Partnerships: Currently, we are proud of the many partnerships we have with programs that provide women with free access to contraceptives. It is important to note that the supplies for these programs come from the respective national health systems and that there is no preference for Bayer products. It is part of our Social Business approach to family planning to support such programs independently of the provided products.
Partnership with UNFPA India
In 2023 Bayer signed a 2-year partnership agreement with UNFPA India, which will focus on a comprehensive program aimed at providing sexual and reproductive health rights services to adolescents, youth, and couples in India. This flagship program is called “my rights - my choices”. It will cover 4 districts in 2 states. The program will be built on a blended approach of adopting a digital platform, namely an AI-enabled chatbot, as well as a health system strengthening model. The projected reach of this AI-enabled platform is estimated to be at about 6 million individuals by 2027. The collaboration between Bayer and UNFPA India is part of a larger program described in the Memorandum of Understanding which Bayer has signed with UNFPA headquarters.
If these partnerships lead to an increase in the use of modern contraception, the number of additional clients can contribute to the annual progress towards the 100 million goal, provided that the data tracking adheres to the audit rules of limited assurance.