Bayer Donations Help Provide Zika Protection for Women, Including Greater Access to Contraceptive Options and Improved Mosquito Control
In response to the growing Zika virus health threat, Bayer today committed to supporting two critical aspects of the Zika response in Puerto Rico: providing women and their partners who want to delay or avoid pregnancy during the Zika outbreak with improved access to a range of contraceptive methods and giving additional protection to families who want to sleep under mosquito-repelling bed nets. To do so, Bayer will provide the CDC Foundation with significant product donations of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and oral contraceptives, as well as concentrated mosquito insecticide tablets and insecticide-treated bed nets.
These donations support the emergency response to the Zika outbreak by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Puerto Rican health officials and partnering organizations. The CDC Foundation is finalizing partnerships with other manufacturers for product donations to support increased access to other types of contraception for women and their partners who desire to avoid or delay pregnancy during the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico. The CDC Foundation applauds Bayer for this model of public-private partnership and urges other companies to join in the effort to raise $20 million in private funding to move beyond the initial phase of the project, which kicks off in early summer.
As the Zika virus outbreak in the Americas continues to expand, every day more is learned about the dangerous effects of Zika. For instance, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects and has been associated with pregnancy loss and other negative birth outcomes, including eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth. An effective strategy to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications is to prevent pregnancy in couples who want to delay or avoid pregnancy during a Zika outbreak.
“We must act quickly and on a large scale to address the threat of Zika in Puerto Rico,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Bayer’s generous donation of bed nets, insecticide tablets and contraception can help women protect themselves from the devastating impact of this virus.”
Bayer’s donation follows last month’s Zika Action Plan Summit at CDC, of which Bayer was a sponsor. The donation will help protect women in Puerto Rico, an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission. Approximately 138,000 women in Puerto Rico are at risk of unintended pregnancy and do not use one of the most effective or moderately effective forms of contraception. In areas of active Zika transmission, CDC recommends that women and their partners discuss pregnancy planning with their doctor or other healthcare provider. As part of this counseling, some women and their partners might decide to delay or avoid pregnancy. Increasing access to contraception for these couples can help ensure the health of the next generation of mothers and their babies in Puerto Rico.
Bayer’s donation includes up to 50,000 IUDs and 40,000 oral contraceptive units. IUDs are one of the most highly effective contraceptive methods. In addition, Bayer is providing 10,000 bed nets for use in Zika Prevention Kits for pregnant women and more than 700,000 mosquito control tablets, which can be used to treat bed nets, curtains and other household items to repel mosquitoes.
Although this donation is a tremendous step forward, critical funding support is needed to increase access and reduce barriers to highly effective contraceptive methods for women and their partners in Puerto Rico who want to delay or avoid pregnancy. Additional contraceptive product support from a consortium of partners will soon be announced; however, there is an urgent need for $20 million in funding to fully implement the contraception access effort beyond an initial phase. The CDC Foundation is actively seeking donors to meet this vital need for funding, which will be used for purchasing certain contraceptive products outside of any donation, distributing the product, and training and reimbursing providers for contraceptive services as well as insertion and removal of contraceptive devices.
To move forward rapidly, CDC is collaborating closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health on a phased approach. CDC is also coordinating efforts with other Health and Human Services operating components, including the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Office of Population Affairs and the Office of Minority Health. The initial phase aims to build a network of providers who can provide the full range of birth control methods to patients. Specialized training for IUD and contraceptive implant insertion and removal is being provided to these physicians, and nurses and allied health professionals are being trained on providing client-centered contraceptive counseling and patient education.
“This is a comprehensive public-private partnership aimed at helping CDC extend its Zika virus response,” said Judith A. Monroe, M.D., president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “We commend Bayer for taking a strong and early role in the Zika response. To get ahead of this potentially devastating new threat, we must continue harnessing the resources and expertise of private sector partners to boost our national and local response efforts. The time to act is now.”
The CDC Foundation activated its U.S. Emergency Response Fund and Global Disaster Response Fund in February 2016 to assist CDC during the Zika response, as needed. Individual or business contributions to the CDC Foundation’s U.S. Emergency Response Fund and Global Disaster Response Fund can be made on the CDC Foundation’s website (www.cdcfoundation.org/zika-response). To discuss giving opportunities or an in-kind donation, contact Laura Angel at email@example.com. For the latest guidance and educational materials, visit www.cdc.gov/Zika.