Kuala Lumpur, 20 May 2022 — During the launch and keynote speech of the conference on “Tackling Unintended Pregnancies in Malaysia”, YB Dato’ Sri Azalina binti Othman Said, Chair of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Women and Children Affairs and Social Development, pointed out a lack of reproductive health options should not cost a woman her life.
“Unintended pregnancies are often the consequences of women having no right or say on their own bodies. If we can give girls and women the right to own their bodies, they can own their future.”
“We need to identify and review existing legislation which currently create an environment of stigma and discrimination towards those experiencing or dealing with the consequences of unintended pregnancies,” she said
“Reforms both in terms of legislation and strengthening of human rights frameworks are needed to protect and improve access to contraception so that women can choose and plan their pregnancy.”
Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy in his welcome stressed on the importance of planning pregnancies. “Being able to plan or decide one’s pregnancy enables women to take control of their futures, so that they can finish their education. get better jobs, but also to plan for their families – rather than being trapped in a cycle of grinding poverty and deprivation.”
“Unintended pregnancy is not just a problem of teenagers, unmarried women, or poor women from disadvantaged backgrounds. It affects all segments of society. Unintended pregnancies are a national concern.”
“Family planning, reproductive health is not a nice-to-do or nice-to have, it is an essential investment and part of a strong, robust and resilient health system.”
“New technologies and methods of contraception are being developed, rolled out and scaled up. But they are of little use if we do not recognise the need and urgency for contraceptives to be readily available and accessible for those who need it.”
Andreas Daugarrd Jorgensen, Managing Director (South East Asia Cluster) for Organon, emphasised the need to distinguish that unintended does not always mean unwanted. “The term includes both unwanted and mistimed pregnancies, mistimed meaning it is not wanted at the current time, but desired at some future point.”
He also highlighted the need to ensure that cost did not become a barrier for access. “Cost should not be a barrier to family planning, and therefore not inhibit women of any reproductive age from being able to access the contraception of her choice due to worries.”
Andreas highlighted the need to ensure properly properly trained and equipped healthcare providers, which will help ensure access to contraception required to prevent unintended pregnancies.
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The 2-day conference “Tackling Unintended Pregnancies in Malaysia” brings together more than 100 government and non-government stakeholders of reproductive health and family planning, gynecologists, and researchers to discuss issues related to unintended pregnancies in Malaysia.
The conference is organised by the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy with the support of Organon Malaysia.