DKT-Liberia with support from the Sweden Embassy and the Ministry of Health/Family Health Division (MOH\FHD) has launched a contraceptive Postpill in celebration of the international day of women.
DKT International, a registered non-profit organization founded in 1989, is one of the world’s largest providers of contraceptives and safe abortion products. DKT International also seeks to mitigate the impending effects of COVID-19 on global access to contraceptives by adopting necessary preemptive measures.
With the hashtag ‘Lydia You Truly Decide’, the product is an emergency pill that is taken within 3-5 days after having unprotected sex, and is most effective when it is taken within 3 days (72 hours), one tablet per dosage.
The launched was held at a local resort in the ELWA community and brought together social media bloggers, celebrities, musicians, activists and advocates.
The pill, according to Amanda Brown, Technical Officer at DKT Liberia, was firstly used for rape victims and other females, who had not been raped, were unable to access the pill.
In her opening remarks, H.E Ingrid Wetterqvist, Sweden Ambassador to Liberia said that the launch of the pills is a way of celebrating International Women’s Day. “The Embassy of Sweden is actually celebrating the International Women’s Day and the launch of the emergency contraceptive pill is one of the things that we are proud of.”
She thanked MOH/FHD, DKT Liberia and other partners who worked through the guidelines to pave the way for this product which is now available over the counter.
Ambassador Wetterqvist noted that the program is sponsored by the embassy and the MOH/FHD and the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for Liberians. “You can enjoy having sexual life, being safe so that you can decide when you have children, how many children you want to have and be prepared when it’s time for that.”
Antonio Turcott, DKT Country Manager said DKT is here to support you to ensure that all women and men can find the contraceptives of their choice. “We are committed to increased access to sexual and reproductive health and rights along with our partners, and we are making it happen,” he said.
“DKT recognizes the value of having a workforce as a vital step toward equality. At DKT five out of seven sales team executives are women.”
He thanked the Sweden embassy and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation for trusting DKT international in supporting the company’s mission to increase access to SRHR. “DKT is grateful to serve Liberians. We believe that by working together with MOH, Midwives Association and all the structures of this society, we can improve Liberians’ lives by working toward a gender-equal society”.
According to him, his company empowers women by promoting SRHR, ensuring access to education about family planning methods and products and yesterday, the company celebrated Lydia’s postpill official launch with a 360-degree marketing campaign portraying successful Liberia women who are great role models.
Dr. G. Gorbee Logan, Assistant Health Minister for Curative Services and Liberia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said 38% of pregnant women in Liberia are adolescent girls while some are teenagers.
He thanked the Sweden Embassy for the continued support most especially the concept of using contraceptive pills which is very important. “If you are not very sure, it’s better to take Lydia postpill within 24hrs to at least prevent it. We are so grateful and we want everyone attending this launch to take the message back home,” Dr. Logan said.
Giving some background information about the product, Alvie Moore, Marketing Officer, DKT, said Lydia postpill was introduced in 2018 but was unknown to the public. So they carried out what she called a visibility exercise, “where we go into the field to visit the various medicine stores and pharmacies to see if they have the product and we noticed that the product was not known. So we decided to have capacity building training so that people can know about the product and what the product is about.”
She said the product was also advertised on local radio stations and the team went out in the field to see if the product is being sold at the expected price because customers were complaining of change in price at the medicine stores.
According to her, the pill is sold for US$1 or L$200.
“Buy one Lydia postpill and get one dollar free of charge. There is a code on the pill. When you buy the pill, scratch the voucher and call the number on it and we will ask you a question. After that, you get your dollar scratch card.”
Performing a spoken word act, entitled ‘The Independently Dependent’, Ms. Beulah Nimene pointed out some of the challenges that successful women go through.
Ms. Nimene highlighted how women are referred to when they are educated and well-off in society. “They say an independent woman uses what she has to get what she wants.”
Celebrating Women’s Empowerment, Ms. Macdella Cooper, Founder of the Macdella Cooper Foundation (MCF) said the increase of unwanted babies in Liberia does not mean women choose to have them but because women have not had the empowerment to choose when and with whom to have kids with.
She thanked DKT for the initiative, stating that women will be able to prevent unwanted pregnancies and plan well before having kids.
According to her, many times women offer their babies to her free of charge because they cannot afford to take care of them, “and it breaks my heart that women will offer me their nine months. I know I can’t leave my nine months. I have 3 kids and hundreds of adopted children.”
“We need to empower women by giving them the option to choose for themselves,” Madam Cooper said. “Women for too long have been prevented or restricted from having the choice or taking the action to lead their own life or decision both in politics and the religious houses.”
“DKT has brought empowerment to women because they can now have the freedom to make choices and take action to decide when we do nine months imprisonment and if you choose not to.”
Madam Cooper, who is also a political leader of the Movement for One Liberia (MOL) used the opportunity to call on the government to take action. “It is not private citizens’ responsibility to take care of the children on the street; it is our the government’s responsibility to care for the citizens to provide the resources that our country need and not to give hand-outs or hand-downs. The government must make sure our agencies are functional to serve the citizens of this country.”
She encouraged young girls to plan well and get all the necessary education before going into childbearing. “I tell every young girl, when you have acquired all the education and have a decent home that is well paid for then you can start to bring a child. Do not continue the cycle of poverty.”
Also, Lydia pill has two brand ambassadors, Grace Weah, commonly known as Master Queen, and Benita Urey, Chief Executive Officer of the famous social blog, The Liberian Influence.
“I am very excited to join everybody here celebrating Lydia and the international day of women,” Grace said. “I am here as one of the influencers to make sure women and girls make plans when to have kids. It’s nothing about rushing; make the right choice. Use Lydia contraceptive pills.”
Benita said “I am honor to be here today celebrating international women’s history month. What better country to celebrate this month — a country with the first African female president. DKT and Lydia are giving women the space to make decisions for themselves. Lydia contraceptive pushes what I believe in, for a woman to make a decision for her future.”
In her closing remarks Bentoe Tehoungue, Director FHD, MOH said, “people who are providing the Lydia pills are trained to provide the service, so do not be afraid. DKT came to this country and we made sure we lay down the standards and one of them is you do not allow any commercial entity to provide the service unless they are trained. I want to urge us all to be ambassadors.”