20 February 2014
South Africa will make transdermal implant contraceptives freely available in the country’s public clinics from next week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Speaking during the debate on the President’s State of the Nation address in Parliament, Motsoaledi said the contraceptive, which will be available for free, is implanted below the skin of the arm and is effective for up to three years.
“The implant gives women freedom to control their own lives,” Motsoaledi said. “It can be taken out any time, and if they want to [fall pregnant], it only takes few weeks to conceive – unlike Depo Provera, the contraceptive injection, which takes at least 12 months to leave the system before a woman can conceive again.”
According to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, the implant is among the most effective birth control methods, preventing pregnancy by releasing hormones that stop ovaries from releasing eggs and by thickening cervical mucous.
A number of nurses have already undergone training in inserting the implant, and 4 000 more are to be trained.
Motsoaledi said the new contraceptive would be available in all public hospitals by 27 February would reach all public clinics by the middle of the year.
At the same time, Motsoaledi announced the launch of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to be administered to grade 4 girls in public schools.
The programme will see the learners being vaccinated against HPV, which causes cervical cancer. The cancer is responsible for the deaths of about 3 500 women in South Africa every year, he said.
“About 550 000 learners will get the first dose in March and again after six months, and every year after. Through the programme, we will have a new generation of women who are protected from cervix cancer.”
SAnews.gov.za and SAinfo reporter