Injectable contraceptives raise alarm
THE Union health ministry is again considering introducing injectable contraceptives in the family planning programme. The ministry has asked its Drug Technical Advisory Body (DTAB) to allow use of Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) in the programme. An earlier attempt to introduce it was withdrawn in 1995 after Supreme Court’s intervention.The contraceptive has side-effects, which include amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation) and weight gain. The long-term effect includes osteoporosis. Union health secretary Sujatha Rao, said most of the processes relating to introducing injectable contraceptives have been completed and that DTAB has to approve it now. She has since retired. Health activists and women’s organisations are up in arms. Brinda Karat, Rajya Sabha member and CPI(M) leader, wrote to health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, saying the contraceptive would damage women’s health. “The programme cannot be focused on just population control; it should be about safe contraception,” she said.
Women’s health groups have sent a memorandum to DTAB urging it not to approve DMPA sold under brand name Depo-Provera by US company Upjohn, now owned by Pfizer. It contains the hormone progestin and is administered every three months. It prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation and thickening the cervical mucous, making it difficult for sperms to pass through.
Mala Srivastava, gynaecologist with Delhi’s Gangaram hospital, said DMPA did not pick up in India because of its side-effects. She said condoms and gels are better because they reduce risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) approved Depo-Provera for marketing in the country in 1993 without the mandatory Phase-III trials.
DMPA – is also known as and used for ‘sexual castration’ and is used on incarcerated sex offenders. So the real question is……birth control of castration….birth control or population control. And again women’s bodies are victimized – either by men (sexual) or the system (medical).