Accessing Birth Control and Reproductive Health Services Amid COVID-19

Now more than ever, it is critical women have all the information and resources at their disposal to make informed decisions about their health.

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, women are facing more barriers than ever when it comes to accessing the birth control and reproductive health services they need. The healthcare system is overwhelmed, many transportation and childcare services are closed, people are scared to leave their homes and an unprecedented number of women are finding themselves out of work. All of this together can make it almost impossible for some women to get birth control and take care of their reproductive health.

Reproductive health services are essential and accessing them should be a right, not a privilege, for women across the globe. A pandemic should not compromise a woman’s ability to plan if and when she gets pregnant. Medicines360 wants to make sure every woman has the information they need.

For healthcare practitioners (HCPs) serving women who use certain types of birth control, such as the pill, vaginal ring or patch that require regular refills, your patients may be concerned about how to get these refills during this time. If women have a regular OBGYN or primary care physician, they can call and ask for guidance to ensure they can continue getting the birth control they need. If financially feasible, women also need the resources and information to go online or use one of many available apps to get birth control delivered to their homes. Bedsider.org has great resources on this.

It’s also important to empower women who don’t have an OBGYN or primary care physician to know they still have options when it comes to birth control. Luckily, there are still private offices, public health clinics and university hospital centers that are currently accepting patients. Women can visit findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov to find a center near them.

For women concerned about cost, they can still seek care at safety net clinics. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are on the front lines of caring for women across the country right now. These neighborhood health centers provide comprehensive care for free or low cost. FQHCs deliver publicly funded family planning care to approximately two million women each year across the US at 1,400 health centers operating at 12,000 sites. FQHCs have sliding fee scales for uninsured patients to make care affordable and accessible, making it a great resource for women facing new or existing challenges such as losing insurance.

HCPs at FQHCs and doctors’ offices are busier than ever and are all taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead of walk-in appointments, they are encouraging women to call ahead and schedule a telehealth appointment, using a videoconference or phone. After a virtual appointment, HCPs may be able to prescribe a method the patient can pick up from the local pharmacy or they may need to schedule an appointment to come into the office.

Reproductive healthcare is an essential service and is critical to maintaining a woman’s health, wellbeing, safety and economic stability. Regardless of the current circumstances, women should be able to plan if and when they want to have children.

At Medicines360, we are thankful to the clinics and HCPs on the front line that recognize the importance of continuing to provide a way for women to get birth control during this crisis.

About Medicines360

Medicines360, located in San Francisco, California, is a nonprofit global women’s health pharmaceutical organization with a mission to catalyze equitable access to medicines and devices through product development, policy advocacy, and collaboration with global and US partners. Medicines360, through its subsidiary Impact RH360, launched the Avibela Project to expand access to hormonal IUDs in low- and middle-income countries. For more information, visit medicines360.org

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AVIBELA can be made available in the following 88 countries

  1. Algeria
  2. Angola
  3. Bangladesh
  4. Belize
  5. Benin
  6. Bhutan
  7. Botswana
  8. Burkina Faso
  9. Burundi
  10. Cambodia
  11. Cameroon
  12. Cape Verde
  13. Central African Republic
  14. Chad
  15. Comoros
  16. Costa Rica
  17. Cuba
  18. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  19. Djibouti
  20. Dominica
  21. Dominican Republic
  22. Egypt
  23. El Salvador
  24. Equatorial Guinea
  25. Eritrea
  26. Ethiopia
  27. Gabon
  28. Ghana
  29. Grenada
  30. Guatemala
  31. Guinea
  32. Guinea-Bissau
  33. Haiti
  34. Honduras
  35. India
  36. Indonesia
  37. Ivory Coast
  38. Jamaica
  39. Kenya
  40. Lao PDR
  41. Lesotho
  42. Liberia
  43. Libya
  44. Madagascar
  45. Malawi
  46. Malaysia
  47. Maldives
  48. Mali
  49. Mauritania
  50. Mauritius
  51. Mayotte
  52. Morocco
  53. Mozambique
  54. Myanmar
  55. Namibia
  56. Nepal
  57. Nicaragua
  58. Niger
  59. Nigeria
  60. Pakistan
  61. Panama
  62. Papua New Guinea
  63. Philippines
  64. Republic of the Congo
  65. Rwanda
  66. Sao Tome and Principe
  67. Senegal
  68. Seychelles
  69. Sierra Leone
  70. Somalia
  71. South Africa
  72. South Sudan
  73. Sri Lanka
  74. Kitts and Nevis
  75. Lucia
  76. Vincent & the Grenadines
  77. Sudan
  78. Swaziland
  79. Tanzania
  80. Thailand
  81. The Gambia
  82. Timor-Leste
  83. Togo
  84. Tunisia
  85. Uganda
  86. Vietnam
  87. Zambia
  88. Sri Lanka

Tina Raine-Bennett, MD, MPH, FACOG

Chief Executive Officer

Tina Raine-Bennett, MD, MPH, is CEO of Medicines360. Previously, she served as a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the research director of the Women’s Health Research Institute. She is a Board-Certified Obstetrician Gynecologist who received her medical training at the University of California, San Diego, and post-graduate residency training and MPH at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she also completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship. She was also senior staff physician at Kaiser Permanente and has a special interest in family planning and adolescent reproductive health.

As the director of the Women’s Health Research Institute, Dr. Raine-Bennett focused on expanding research on women’s health within the Division and translating women’s health research into clinical practice and policy within the Ob/Gyn departments in Northern California. She also promoted the involvement of clinicians in research designed to improve the health outcomes and healthcare experiences of women at Kaiser Permanente and women in general.

Prior to Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Raine-Bennett was a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She was based at San Francisco General Hospital where she was also the medical director of the New Generation Health Center, a UCSF affiliate site that provides community-based reproductive health services. Dr. Raine-Bennett’s research has focused on contraceptive methods and on elucidating factors that influence contraceptive choice and continuation, and she was principal investigator on NIH grants to assess hormonal contraceptive use predictors and develop interventions to improve contraceptive access.

Her past and current research on emergency contraception has focused on the safety of making emergency contraception more accessible and she conducted a pivotal clinical trial to make emergency contraception available to teens without a prescription. She served on the editorial board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has over 100 peer-reviewed publications. She was the Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Society of Family Planning and Society of Family Planning Research Fund. She has also served as an examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and on national committees for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the National Medical Board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.