‘Access to Contraceptives, Information, A Serious Problem’

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Antonio Turcott, DKT Liberia Country Manager

DKT Liberia Celebrates World Contraceptives Day with weeklong promotions

The Liberia Country Manager of DKT-Liberia, Antonio Turcott, says the organization is prepared to provide modern contraceptive products for better family planning decision, while emphasizing the importance of using DKT’s products in planning how to have children.

DKT is one of the world’s largest providers of family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and safe abortion products and services. DKT International Liberia, recently launched its interventions to promote family planning and HIV prevention through social marketing, a program well-attended by partners and the government.

Ahead of World Contraceptive Day, which falls on September 26, 2019, Mr. Turcott told the the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that DKT, in collaboration with UNFPA and the Ministry of Health, “will have six (6) booths around Montserrado County and will distribute free family planning products to the public,” throughout this week.

According to him, DKT also plans to launch total campaign about the various products during the World Contraceptive Week, beginning Tuesday, September 24.

“We need to improve the contraceptive prevalence rate,” Turcott said. “We have just 21 percent contraceptive prevalence rate in Liberia, but Liberians really want to use the various types of family planning methods. But access is a serious problem as well the right information.”

According Liberia’s health indicators, he noted, most Liberian women and girls do not use the modern contraceptive methods of family planning.

He said DKT, which has been marketing and distributing its products in Liberia since July of 2018, is currently working in five of the 15 counties in Liberia, including Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties but with a plan to cover the entire country.

“Our commodities are again very affordable and accessible to the public. Kiss condom is sold for just LD$70, our premier condom is also sold for LD$150. We also have the Fiesta condom and have three months family planning with our contraceptive pill. We usually promote the long term contraceptive pill. If you don’t want to have a child in three years, you can go for the intrauterine devices (IUD), which some of the partnering clinics have started distributing. This is only US$4.00,” Mr. Turcott said.

For sustainable supply of products, Mr. Turcott said DKT is increasing its sales agents across its operating counties to enable the public to have enough access to the various products and on time, stating, “we will just need notice from our agents, than we will supply as requested.” He said DKT will have 10 agencies for distribution of all its products.

According to him, DKT currently has partnership with the Liberia Midwifery Association, which has created the opportunity to work with 15 super midwives to train private clinical health practitioners in intrauterine devices (IUD), which is one form of long-acting reversible birth control, and post abortion care.

He said the 15 midwives are also part of the Ministry of Health (MoH) master trainers program and continue to provide education for better family planning decisions.

According to him, most of the DKT’s staffs are nurses. DKT is also partnering with the Nurses Association, which shows that DKT is focusing on the private sector, including capacity building and supplying commodities.

Mr. Turcott said it’s always good to check the clinic to establish if everything is actively working as expected, stating “these are all good deals for Liberia and gratitude to the Swedish Embassy in Liberia and with such support, DKT is able to offer these products and services.”

According to him, DKT is working with 250 pharmacies, 75 private clinics, but said there are plans to reach all the private clinics in Liberia with the initial target of 300. He said DKT will also train health workers in short and long-term methods.

In some countries, he said, DKT products are so well positioned that they are profitable. The profits from those thriving markets enables DKT to supplement the the prices and availability of the same products in underdeveloped markets, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Globally, the objective of DKT is to make family planning products available for the people and to increase access to sexual and reproductive health rights in the country. We know the current situation in Liberia, which says more than 50 percent lives below the poverty line. This shows that even some of the products sold for as low as US$2.00 are still not affordable to some people,” Mr. Turcott said.

He emphasized that some Liberians understand the importance of family planning and are opened to using it to plan and have children.

“We intend to have 800,000 Couple Years Protection (CYP), which is the estimated protection provided by contraceptive methods during a one-year period, based upon the volume of all contraceptives sold or distributed free of charge to clients during that period. We want to distribute at least millions of condoms yearly. We want to distribute and have the family planning services for over 5,000 in a year,” Mr. Turcott said.

“Our goal in five (5) years is to have condoms available 24hrs. Sadly, pharmacies in Liberia close very early so we want to have this new market that nightclubs can have some options to enable people have access to our condoms during late hours of the night. Actually, this is the time one would need a condom (and not during the day),” Mr. Turcott said.

When asked about whether DKT promotes abstinence, Turcott said DKT believes that everyone needs to have fun and achieve their goals and does not engage into any campaign of abstinences, stating “we really promote contraceptive methods.”

According to him, DKT will be recruiting 25 county community representatives, which will also provide job, while ensuring that family planning is available and affordable for everyone.

DKT is currently providing family planning to about 60 countries.

According to him, they will also have post-abortion care and long term methods training, stating that “we have Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) workshop and will train 100 pharmacists on ADR in order to know if something happens to the commodities the step-by-step to handle it because some commodities have reaction.”

He said Liberia and Ghana have the same health policies in relations with abortion, and medical abortion is allowed only in certain health conditions, stating “in other countries, they have more access to medical abortion and the less maternal mortality.”

“With support from UNFPA and Sweden Embassy, they are working on new policy that will monitor medical abortion and that will make it available but will have certain ways of tracking it. It will not just be a pregnant lady walking to the clinic and calling for abortion,” he said.

According to DKT, they apply savvy private sector marketing techniques, cutting edge technologies and inventive advertising to ensure that women and men have the products, knowledge and services they need, when and where they need them. We have offices in 24 countries covering more than 63% of the world’s population, and sell products in many more. DKT is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) but operates like a social enterprise: We recover 70% of our operating costs through sales revenues. We are 100% transparent about our results and finances.

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