Program Provides Access To Low-Cost Oral Contraceptives

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Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao on Monday announced thatthe country will add emergency contraceptives to its program that willaim to provide women with access to low-cost oral contraceptives at10,000 pharmacies nationwide, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Lehman, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26). EC, which contains high doses of progestin, can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/20).

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BrazilianPresident Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, while announcing the contraceptiveprogram in May, said it will give low-income Brazilians the "same rightthat the wealthy have to plan the number of children they want."No-cost condoms and birth control pills are available at governmentpharmacies in the country, but many people go to private pharmacies,according to Temporao.

The oral contraceptives cost $2.40annually under the plan and will be available to anyone with agovernment-issued identification card, regardless of income. About3,500 pharmacies initially will participate in the $51 million program,and the number is expected to increase to 10,000 by the end of 2007.The government expects to distribute about 50 million packages of pillsannually once the program has been fully implemented (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 5/30).

Speaking at a round-table discussion sponsored by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo,Temporao did not indicate whether the government will subsidize EC orif it will be available at no cost. He said EC is an "important toolfor the prevention of unwanted pregnancies that will definitely be partof our strategy" to help the country's low-income residents have thesame access to birth control as others. Ana Lucia Cavalcanti, who headswomen's programs for Sao Paulo, called on the government also to launcheducation programs to teach low-income women how to use EC (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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