PHILISPBURG, Sint Maarten – PFP Member of Parliament Melissa Gumbs submitted a request to the Social Economic Council (SER) for a study on the availability and accessibility of contraceptive methods to the St. Maarten population.
In her written request, Gumbs cited that St. Maarten has committed to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, among other topics, also involves a commitment to achieve Gender Equality. The UN’s SDG Five notes that “gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.” Reaching this goal means providing women with environments that allow them to thrive personally, professionally and health-wise.
“Women are facing a significant health challenge, worldwide,” Gumbs stated in her request, “with access to contraceptive methods such as birth control pills, IUDs (intrauterine devices), the contraceptive injection and others not being readily available in certain situations.”
The request further explains that in certain developed countries, access to contraception is either included in the general health insurance package or offered at subsidized rates that encourage use of more modern methods. However, Gumbs noted, in developing nations, and particularly the lower-income communities in those countries, easy access to affordable contraception is not possible. This has a significant health and social impact on the women in these communities.
The request specifically asks the SER to focus their study and subsequent advice on three key topics related to St. Maarten: the availability of contraception to the wider population, challenges faced by women in the community with obtaining contraceptive methods (such as lack of coverage by insurance), and the socio-economic impact that lack of access may have on lower-income communities.
When outlining the reasoning for submitting the request, Gumbs cited the fact that certain contraceptive methods can be used to treat symptoms of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and endometriosis, both of which are often painful conditions that impact 1 out of 10 women, worldwide.
“Modern methods of contraception go beyond their primary use,” Gumbs states. “While not the ‘be all/end all’ for managing PCOS and endometriosis, their ability to balance the hormones that cause the often painful symptoms make it easier for women suffering from these disorders to live normal lives while taking other, measured steps to treatment. Personally, I know many women who are struggling with these conditions and they, as well as others, should have access to whatever will provide them with relief.”
It is Gumbs’ hope that this study will shed some light on the local situation regarding contraceptive access and, combined with other research, will help shape an initiative that the PFP faction is currently working on.