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By Sindisiwe Dlamini

In a city grappling with surging population numbers and the alarming spread of
sexually transmitted diseases, Cape Town’s Health Department has been closely
monitoring a curious phenomenon – a year-on-year decline in contraception use.

Despite this trend, the department remains unwavering in its commitment to
promoting contraceptive methods as a means of preventing unplanned pregnancies
and safeguarding public health.

World Contraception Day, celebrated globally on the 26th of September each year,
has taken on added significance in Cape Town. This annual campaign aims to
enhance awareness about contraception, improve access to family planning
services, and empower individuals to make informed decisions regarding their
reproductive health.

“The campaign serves as a unifying force, rallying organizations, healthcare
providers, advocates, and individuals worldwide to champion the right to
comprehensive sexual education and access to a diverse range of contraceptive
methods,” explained Patricia van der Ross, the City’s mayoral committee member for
community services and health.

Cape Town’s declining contraceptive usage has prompted a call for action, especially
given the potential consequences of unplanned pregnancies and the imperative of
ensuring comprehensive reproductive healthcare. “The day serves as a poignant
reminder of the significance of accessible and informative reproductive healthcare,
particularly as we observe a decline in contraceptive visits,” Van der Ross

“While there may be numerous factors contributing to this trend, we are
determined to ensure that every decision concerning contraception is an educated
one.” To shed light on the evolving landscape of contraceptive usage, here is a snapshot
of family planning and contraceptive visits in Cape Town for the 2021/22 and
2022/23 financial years: IUCD Inserted: 1,156 (2021/22) vs. 873 (2022/23) – 24%

MedroxyProgesterone injection: 238,419 (2021/22) vs. 203,877 (2022/23) 14% decrease. Norethisterone Enanthate injection: 88,508 (2021/22) vs. 0 (2022/23). Oral pill cycle: 103,301 (2021/22) vs. 92,549 (2022/23) – 10% decrease.

Sub-dermal implant inserted: 9,110 (2021/22) vs. 8,071 (2022/23) – 11% decrease
To address this concerning decline, the Health Department’s Area East took
proactive steps by hosting an event on World Contraception Day, engaging with
young people at the Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) High School.

Under the theme ‘Empowering Choice, Ensuring Access,’ the event underscored the
fundamental right to make informed choices about reproductive health and
emphasized the need for accessible, affordable, and high-quality contraceptive
options for all.

A range of activities unfolded during the event, featuring collaborations with the
Department of Social Development, Provincial Local Government, Public
Participation Unit, and Emthonjeni Counselling and Training. These efforts aimed to
demystify the diverse contraceptive options available, each with its own set of
benefits and risks.

“Beyond the primary goal of preventing pregnancy, it’s crucial to recognize that some
contraceptive methods also offer protection against sexually transmitted infections
and reduce the risk of certain cancers,” highlighted Councillor Van der Ross. “Our
clinic staff are readily available to answer questions and provide guidance on the
best contraceptive option for each individual. By making an informed choice, you can
take control of your own sexual health.”

As Cape Town confronts the complex challenges of population growth and public
health, World Contraception Day serves as a beacon of hope, a reminder of the
importance of informed reproductive choices, and a call to action to reverse the
decline in contraception use and ensure a healthier future for all its residents.

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