Parliamentary Secretary For Equality and Reforms Rosianne Cutajar said contraceptive medicine whose supply has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic should be considered an essential and prescription free.
“It is of concern that women are currently facing difficulties in obtaining what I consider an essential medicinal,” Cutajar said to Lovin Malta.
On International Day of Action for Women’s Health, we’re reminded of the need to ensure women’s self-autonomy and strive towards better access to quality health, particularly in the realm of sexual and reproductive rights which are continuously fought for worldwide, particularly in the face of the pandemic.
Cutajar said that the global health crisis has exposed “increased gender inequalities” in which women find it more difficult to access contraceptive medicines because of a number of factors that lead to shortages. In Malta, this is attributed to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, while the government does stock up on essential medicines to prevent shortages in the face of the global health crisis, contraceptives are not on the list of essential medicines.
Lovin Malta wrote about a number of women who shared their struggles with the shortages of different contraceptive brands. Some pills like Qlaira which are used beyond a means to avoid pregnancy, but for a number of conditions like Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and acne have been out of stock for months.
Cutajar said that Malta must ensure that contraceptive medicines remain accessible, even in the face of COVID-19.
“No emergency situation should hinder our right to access essential healthcare. If anything, we should strive to make it even more accessible,” Cutajar affirmed.
In order to make such medicine more accessible, the Junior Minister also stressed that contraceptive pills should be made available over the counter without the need for any prescriptions, as is the case in countries like France. Currently in Malta, you can only access these medicines with a doctor’s prescription.
“This should be the way forward,” she said.