Despite scientific research finding women using the contraceptive Depo Provera are at higher risk to transmit HIV/AIDS and develop breast cancer, Planned Parenthood plans to widely distribute the injectable to women in Zambia.
Abortion advocates are lauding the Zambian governments decision to create, for the first time, a line item within the country’s budget for the procurement of contraceptive supplies – $9.3 million.
The successful advocacy which led to securing the funding from the Zambian government, is being attributed to the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) from a $50,000 advocacy grant awarded to them.
The advocacy grants flow from the Advance Family Planning initiative established through the UK Family Planning Summit in July 2012, which partnered with Melinda Gates and the United Nations Population Fund. The goal of the summit was to secure commitments from pharmaceutical companies, Foundations, and governments to scale-up the delivery of modern methods of contraceptive to 120 million women and girls in low-income countries by 2020 – $4.6 billion was committed.
The Fund is part of a 5-year AFP project providing grants to reproductive rights groups – like Planned Parenthood, to target high birth rate countries to secure these governments financial investment and political commitment to assure access to contraceptives, especially long-acting methods like injectables. The same groups receiving funding for advocacy will later receive funding for the distribution of the contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood of Zambia Executive Director Edford G. Mutuma said next on the agenda was to increase the distribution of injectable contraceptives through community health workers.
The harmful side effects of Depo Provera have been largely ignored by reproductive rights stakeholders due to the millions of dollars already committed to manufacture and distribute it.
“Planned Parenthood, the largest distributer of Depo Provera for drug company Pfizer, conceals lethal side effects from African women while Pfizer generates record sales of up to 36 billion dollars, said Kwame Fosu, a human rights activist disparaged by his reproductive rights peers for sounding the alarm on the injectable contraceptive.
Fosu, Director of International Affairs at the Rebecca Project for Human Rights provided the following response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement that they will seek channels to widely distribute Depo in Zambia:
“Depo Provera and Norplant are termed the “DDT of contraceptives” by human rights advocates, because the drugs are highly toxic and produce debilitating side effects. Depo Provera significantly increases the incidence HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and other diseases. Alarm bells should sound off across Africa especially after Israel banned and restricted Depo Provera to protect African women living in Israel. Zambian health officials should recognize that Depo Provera is a drug created to decimate populations, women are not only left childless, but the serious terminal diseases they develop cannot be treated easily in Africa. Our African leaders should also be cognizant of the fact that Depo Provera is banned or restricted in India, Europe, and the United States as detailed in this report by the Rebecca Project for Justice.”
The Advance Family Planning program receives the bulk of its funding from foundations noted for population control efforts — Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The Opportunity Fund is managed by Population Action International, a longtime supporter of population reduction programs in Africa including sterilizations and abortions.