CDC Foundation Brings Together Partners with CDC to Provide Contraceptive Options for Women in Puerto Rico
The Zika virus outbreak poses very serious risks to pregnant women as 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. For women and their partners who want to delay or avoid pregnancy during the Zika outbreak, there is now a crucial and immediate need to provide pre-conception counseling and effective contraceptive options, particularly to women in the high-risk U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, where approximately two-thirds of all pregnancies are unplanned. To assist with this need, the CDC Foundation today announced a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and multiple organizations, including Allergan, Medicines360, Upstream USA and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to provide a range of contraceptive options to women in Puerto Rico.
“These donations will help women and their partners gain access to safe and effective contraception should they decide to make the deeply personal decision to prevent or delay pregnancy during this time of ongoing Zika transmission in Puerto Rico,” said Denise J. Jamieson, M.D., CDC Division of Reproductive Health and co-lead of the Zika pregnancy task force.
While the first phase of the contraception access effort launching in early summer has the products and funding required to proceed, full implementation and sustainability of this effort will require significant private funding. As announced last week, Bayer is providing an initial contraceptive product donation in support of this effort, and other organizations also are stepping forward to participate with products and services.
Allergan, a leading global pharmaceutical company, and Medicines360, a nonprofit women’s health pharmaceutical company with a mission of expanding access to quality medicines, have made a donation of 10,000 units of intrauterine devices (IUDs) to the CDC Foundation. Allergan is also donating more than 40,000 one-month cycle packs of oral contraceptives.
Upstream USA provided in-kind support to train medical providers and support staff during the first phase of this effort. Upstream USA is a nonprofit organization offering customized, CME/CEU-accredited, on-site technical training and capacity building to ensure that health centers can offer their patients a range of contraceptive methods, including IUDs and the implant.
For this emergency response effort, Merck, a global health care leader, is collaborating with CDC Foundation to enable increased access to contraceptive methods in Puerto Rico.
“We are so grateful to these partners for stepping up and helping with this critical need for contraceptive access to protect women in Puerto Rico,” said Judith A. Monroe, M.D., president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is proud to support CDC efforts to combat Zika.”
While these product donations and trainings are tremendous, critical funding support is needed to increase access and reduce barriers to highly effective contraceptive methods for women and their partners who want to delay or avoid pregnancy. Beyond these contributions, there is an urgent need for $20 million in private funding to move beyond the initial phase of the project, which kicks off in early summer. 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 pre-conception counseling and 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. 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 step is to build a network of providers who can provide a range of birth control methods to women. Nurses and allied health professionals are being trained to provide client-centered contraceptive counseling and patient education, and physicians are receiving specialized training for IUD and contraceptive implant insertion and removal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest guidance and educational materials, visit www.cdc.gov/Zika.