World Population Day 2020: DKT International Addresses Global Supply Chain Disruption, Shipping and Distribution Delays, Limited Access to Healthcare Providers to Help Women Avoid Unintended Pregnancies and Unsafe Abortions Amid COVID-19
WASHINGTON: According to the UNFPA, 47 million women in low-and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives which could result in 7 million unintended pregnancies due to COVID-19. DKT International, one of the largest providers of family planning in the developing world, has launched new initiatives in 60 countries around the world to protect the sexual and reproductive health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls in order to avoid unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal deaths due to COVID-19 and overburdened health systems.
“While there have always been obstacles in reaching women and couples in rural areas with family planning; social distancing and contraception supply chain disruptions have made condoms, IUDs, emergency contraception and abortion pills especially difficult to obtain,” says Chris Purdy, CEO of DKT International. “As a result, DKT is focused on doing everything we can to minimize disruption in the access to and use of high-quality products. The reproductive health needs of women and men around the world are not on ‘pause’ during this time–so we are continuing to address those needs.”
As COVID-19 impacts the availability of condoms and contraceptives at clinics, shops, and pharmacies, DKT is ensuring providers have sufficient supplies to meet the family planning needs of their customers. As a result, women are depending on pharmacies for their birth control rather than clinic-based methods like IUDs and implants as they choose to delay visits to clinics. DKT is also now providing face shields to shop owners so they can stay open without fear of infection.
Several DKT family planning efforts considering COVID-19 pivots include:
- Training providers virtually on protocols to ensure safety for providers and clients alike.
- Continuing to emphasize the importance of family planning via social media, television, radio, and Facebook groups with shareable, digitized formats, i.e. Instagram Live Q&As, GIFs, website chat boxes, and webinars to amplify education and awareness.
- DKT WomanCare has emerged as a leading platform to ensure access to a wide range of contraceptives and technology for miscarriage management and safe abortion care. With sales in over 90 countries, their efforts continue to aid governments, NGOs, and the private sector to help more women around the world control their futures by choosing when and how to have a family.
- Featured educational topics via DKT WomanCare include information on MVA (a safe abortion product used to manage miscarriages and provide abortion care), IUDs, emergency contraception, and proper dosage and use of medical abortion.
- Utilizing a human-rights based approach to train and engage youth, providers, mobilizers, and community influencers to increase awareness, promote, protect, and fulfil sexual and reproductive rights.
- Investing in inventory to reduce potential stock outs due to significant slowdowns in production from partner manufacturers, heightened scrutiny, and impediments around global shipping and freight. To ensure uninterrupted access, DKT has stocked up on condoms, IUDs, oral contraceptives, and safe abortion products.
- Equipping health care providers with information and risk mitigation strategies to continue providing services, including around safe abortion.
- Leveraging its strong links with the public sector to provide support where and as they can by helping governments access COVID-19 test kits, sharing information and guidance, and making emergency contraceptive supplies available if needed.
“Everyone at DKT is adapting nimbly and quickly during this unprecedented time. While we hope for the best, we are preparing for the worst and assuming these disruptions could be the new reality for the foreseeable future,” adds Purdy. “We will continue to assess where future challenges and opportunities lie to ensure that the reproductive health needs of women are met.”