The rate of contraceptive usage in Malaysia has not increased over the past two decades.
One of the results of this is the rise in unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies.
To help counter this, Eurodrug Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd, Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd, the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia (FRHAM) and consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr John Teo Beng Ho have partnered to launch the Take Control campaign.
This campaign aims to provide safe, accessible facilities for women to receive consultation from pharmacists at more than 120 Caring outlets nationwide.
The consultation is structured and standardised with a “Take Control” oral contraceptive guidebook that contains real-life scenarios, questions and recommendations for the use of pharmacists when counselling women on oral contraceptives for family planning, cycle control and hormone management.
It also takes into account cultural and societal norms on the topic of birth control.
The guidebook was developed by Eurodrug Malaysia and reviewed by key contraceptive educators and FRHAM.
“Pharmacists are often the first point of contact for those interested in family planning or contraception.
“On top of that, retail pharmacies are often strategically located in high traffic areas such as shopping malls and operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the convenience of our customers.
“As the largest pharmacy chain in Malaysia, Caring is proud to participate in the Take Control campaign where our pharmacists can use their knowledge to the fullest for the benefit of the community and complement physicians in enhancing the patient’s healthcare experience,” said Caring managing director Chong Yeow Siang.
Dr Teo added: “The dire statistics of unplanned pregnancies call for greater empowerment to women in the form of counselling, information provision and access to modern contraceptive methods.
“Healthcare professionals, especially in the communities, must take the lead in these critical service provisions and break the vicious cycle of misinformation and myths surrounding contraception.”
FRHAM executive director Syirin Junisya noted that: “Sexual and reproductive healthcare and information preserve women’s and girls’ health and rights.
“It also enables them to become educated, employed and empowered.
“Ultimately, it is about empowering women to ensure every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth safe, and every girl’s potential fulfilled.”
The campaign also saw the launch of Dienille, a fourth generation combined oral contraceptive that uses two hormones: dienogest (which acts like the hormone progesterone) and ethinylestradiol (which acts like the hormone oestrogen).
First launched in Germany in 1995, Dienille acts to inhibit ovulation, thus preventing unintended pregnancies.
It has also been clinically proven to treat mild to moderate acne problems.
In addition, a study with over 2,000 women found that the incidence of painful periods or menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhoea, decreased from around 28.8% before treatment, to near zero after the sixth cycle of taking Dienille.
The number of spotting incidents (bleeding outside or between the menstrual period) and breakthrough bleedings also decreased to near zero over the course of taking the contraceptive.
Studies have shown that the rates of pregnancy after stopping Dienille, irregardless of how long the contraceptive was taken, were similar to women who had never used an oral contraceptive.
Said Eurodrug Malaysia country manager Kelvin Tong: “Empowered to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant, increases a woman’s opportunities to be healthy and to live the life they want.
“Modern women are deeply aware of what they consume and will look for contraception that enables them to take control of their menstrual cycle and hormone management.”
Dienille is now available in Malaysia as a Group C medication, which can be dispensed directly by pharmacists.