ONTRACEPTION AND Young People: A Focus on Zika’ was the focus of this year’s World Contraception Day (WCD), observed each year on September 26.
Under the endorsement of the National Family Planning Board – Sexual Health Agency (NFPB-SHA), this year the observance of the day was even more poignant given the potential impact of the Zika epidemic in Jamaica and the role that acceptance and use of contraceptives can have in mitigating conception as well as the sexual transmission of Zika.
This is critical in light of the global evidence on the sequelae of Zika infection – the potential risk of microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers and also a risk of Guillan Barre Syndrome, a paralytic condition, in infected persons.
Focusing on the implications of Zika and the importance of contraception, especially among the sexually active, including young people, the World Contraception Day campaign centred around a vision where every pregnancy is planned through consistent and correct contraceptive use. WCD’s mission since 2007 has been to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health. The vision and mission of WCD are in sync with the NFPBSHA’s own overall vision – that of all Jamaicans enjoying optimum health in an environment where their sexual and reproductive rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. It is well documented that having sex at an early age increases the risk of becoming pregnant while in school or contracting and passing on a STI, including HIV/AIDS. According to the last Reproductive Health Survey (2008
RHS), the early onset of sexual activity in Jamaica among boys and girls, is 14 and 16 years, respectively. This is reason enough to heighten the response, as unplanned pregnancy rates are particularly high among sexually active teens. Here in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, many teens are not using, and may not even know about, contraceptive methods, much less long-acting reversible methods such as the intrauterine device (IUD) or hormonal implants. According
85 PER CENT OF PREGNANCY UNPLANNED