“It’s time to break the silence and start conversations on contraception” says Dr. Hema Divakar Chairperson and CEO, ARTIST

Baby by choice and not by chance is the mantra that should resonate with the girl-woman of today. The goal is to allow women to make informed choices about their reproductive health, in the hope that every pregnancy is intentional, said Dr Hema Divakar, leading gynecologist and CEO of ARTIST.

The women are aware that there are many forms of contraception available today. It is important that options should be discussed with a healthcare provider and make a safe decision that’s right for them, especially if they have pre existing medical conditions. It is equally important for the doctors and health care providers to proactively address this need in girls and women who are sexually active.

World Contraception Day is observed on September 26. The annual worldwide campaign centers around a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. Launched in 2007, WCD’s mission is to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.

One of the successful campaigns in India is Parivarthan.

Parivarthan is breaking the unspoken taboo about contraception. The campaign Parivarthan is a collaborative initiative of PSI (Population Services International) and ARTIST (Asian Research & Training Institute for Skill Transfer) and it is about change in mindset of health care providers and youth by building awareness, access and affordability of use of contraception.

Due to relentless campaigns carried out by ARTIST and others, the number of women receiving contraception has gone up from 2 percent to 30 percent.

The youth is changing outlook towards premarital relations, physical and emotional. Parivarthan targets the youth by visiting various colleges and emphasizes on #WhoDecides.  Awareness will be brought on lifestyle, reproductive health decisions and career over marriage.

The project is about preventive methods, contraception, change in mindset, decision making, seeking accessible healthcare like not restricting contraceptives to only medical stores. It should be in every social place to enable ease of access.

The campaign involves bringing knowledge at the doorstep of a woman and also during their in-person visits and through digital platforms authentic information and helplines while maintaining confidentiality.

According to Hema, “if contraceptive needs were met,15 million abortions per year would have been avoided in India. In India, 13 women die in every day due to unsafe abortions and we pledge that these needless deaths should be prevented.”

Dr Hema Divakar believes that there is a great need to address misinformation that is prevalent in the general population “both in terms of sexual and reproductive health, and also where abortion is permitted by the law, and how it can be performed safely.” She added “We are motivated by the possibility of having an impact towards reducing maternal deaths in India by wider use of contraception and spacing of pregnancy.”

She is actively working towards accomplishing ‘Vision 2022’ – a women’s healthcare initiative she unveiled as the FOGSI President in the year 2013-14 aimed at the overall well-being of women folk, including improving the availability of affordable quality healthcare services for the welfare of women, breaking social stigma and other societal perceptions, some of which are now state policies already.

Under the programme, doctors take up the leadership charge. They train a set of other doctors and healthcare providers, who will in turn offer life skills and contraceptive advice.  ARTIST comes into play in making awareness and training meaningful. Effective perception is crucial, and ARTIST believes in this.

Nearly all women, irrespective of social background are familiar with condoms and birth control pills. However, there is less awareness about the hormonal methods of the ring and the patch. Women also have a limited awareness of other barrier methods beyond condoms. Interestingly, women have spoken of the withdrawal method, but showed fairly low awareness of the rhythm method or the calendar method.

Short Acting Methods : The Pill, Male Condom, Female Condom, Contraceptive Patch, Contraceptive Ring, Diaphragm, Sponge, Cervical Cap, Spermicides,    Contraceptive Injection.

For the uninitiated these are contraception methods:

Among women of reproductive age, sterilization was by far most effective at preventing pregnancy and next in the list is IUDs.

Long Acting Reversible Methods: Intrauterine Systems – IUS, Intrauterine Device – IUD, Contraceptive Implant.

 Other Methods: Pull-out Method (Withdrawal Method), Fertility Awareness,   Sterilization, Emergency Contraceptives