08 May 2012

Government’s policy to improve access to contraception strongly supported – NZMA Tuesday 8 May 2012 The NZMA strongly supports policy announced by the Government today that will enable women on a benefit and female dependents of beneficiaries to access financial assistance should they choose to use long-acting reversible contraception.

The policy will apply to women aged between 16 and 19 years old.

NZMA Chair Dr Paul Ockelford says that financial support that improves access to effective contraception will provide women with real choice in managing their fertility.

“All women, regardless of income, should have knowledge of and access to safe contraception that protects them from unwanted pregnancy.” 

“The Government could look at extending financial assistance to those on a low income, in addition to beneficiaries, but this is an excellent start.”

“There are a number of initiatives already in place, some national and others at a District Health Board or Primary Health Organisation level that improve access to contraception. Some are targeted at specific groups such as young people for whom poorly managed fertility has detrimental outcomes. However, today’s announcement builds on these existing initiatives and will greatly improve access.”

Dr Ockelford says that while there are a number of long acting methods of contraception on the market not all are fully funded which makes them costly and restricts a woman’s options in choosing contraception.

“Better access to fully funded long acting contraception will give women more control over their own fertility. We recommend that women speak with their doctor to obtain the information they need to choose the contraception that is best for them.”

Dr Ockelford said that contraception should be provided by the woman’s usual doctor to ensure continuity of care.

The Government is investing $1 million over the next four years in Special Needs Grants assistance that will cover the cost of attending medical appointments for women on a benefit who choose long-acting reversible contraception. The grant will take effect from 30 July and then more widely from 15 October 2012.