28 February 2008

Zambia: Depo-Provera Administering Still On Hold

Ndola — GOVERNMENT has not started re-administering Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive, in public health institutions until a report from manufacturers is received from the United States.

Women who started flocking to health centres after Health Minister, Brian Chituwo announced in Parliament that the contraceptive was safe, were being turned away.

Health ministry spokesperson, Canisius Banda, said in an interview yesterday that advice would soon be given to the recipients of Depo-Provera immediately a report from the manufacturers was received.

Dr Banda said in the meantime, clients were advised to consult the health care providers on what family planning options were freely available in public health facilities.

He said a thorough research by the ministry of Health found Depo-Provera safe and directives to resume the provision of the contraceptive was awaiting the report by the manufacturers.

The ministry of Health had earlier withdrawn Depo-Provera on suspicion that the drug contained traces of the HIV virus.

But Dr Chituwo had reassured the nation that scientific investigations had not shown any traces of the virus.

He emphasised that Depo-Provera was withdrawn from health institutions and quarantined pending the completion of scientific investigations and a report from the suppliers of the product.

Some women on Depo- Provera contraceptive in Ndola expressed unhappiness that they were being turned away at health care centres due to the unavailability of the contraceptive.

Some women spoken to said the health care providers told them that Depo-Provera was currently unavailable and they were being encouraged to use other contraceptives.

They said they did not understand why the contraceptive was unavailable and wondered whether its unavailability confirmed earlier suspicions that it was not safe.

Most women said they preferred Depo-Provera as a method of family planning because it was an injectible contraceptive as the other available contraceptives were orally taken.

Ndola District Health Management Team director, Kakungo Simpungwe, confirmed that the contraceptive was currently not available at the health care centres.

Dr Simpungwe said the health care providers were not turning the women away but were offering them alternative contraceptives.

She said her office was not aware of any complaints by the public but still urged the clients to take the available contraceptives in order not to disturb their family planning until Depo-Provera was available.

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