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Contraception access among Kazakhstani women has remained low over the past decades. At the same time, Kazakhstan belongs to the list of countries with a high abortion rate, where every sixth pregnancy is terminated, and 3 out of 100 adolescent girls aged 15-19 become pregnant, while 15% of them have an abortion.

These and other problems of access of Kazakhstanis to contraception and family planning services were discussed at a round table organized by the United Nations Population Fund in Kazakhstan and the Scientific Center for Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Perinatology of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

UNFPA specialists presented to the roundtable participants the results of research on the reproductive behavior of Kazakhstanis and their access to family planning services. As it turned out, the population is significantly limited in the use of modern contraceptives due to their high market prices, as contraceptives in Kazakhstan are more expensive in comparison with other countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. At the same time, contraceptives are not included in the guaranteed volume of free medical care and are not covered by the mandatory social health insurance package, which is also one of the factors of the insufficient access of the population to contraceptives.

The participants of the round table discussed the main trends in the reproductive behavior of adolescents. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in HIV infections among boys and girls under 25 years of age. All this indicates that the country needs to expand the access of Kazakhstanis to modern contraception and family planning services. According to Gaukhar Abuova, coordinator of UNFPA sexual and reproductive health projects in Kazakhstan, this will solve a number of important issues: from reducing the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and abortions, to infertility problems.

“According to the analysis carried out by UNFPA, we can quite clearly say that secondary infertility is prevalent in our country. Among the causes of infertility, controllable factors play a major role. That is, if we carry out sufficient prevention of sexually transmitted infections, reduce the number of abortions and establish safe abortion methods, and also promptly identify, starting from childhood, anomalies of diseases of the reproductive organs, then we will be able to significantly affect this indicator, ” Gaukhar Abuova emphasized in her presentation.

Access to family planning and contraception services can have a positive impact on the budgetary savings of the healthcare system. So, according to the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan, in 2019 alone, more than 6 billion tenge of budgetary funds were spent on 70 thousand abortions. Meanwhile, according to UNFPA estimations, the annual provision of free contraceptives for the same number of women would cost the state 2.4 times cheaper - 2.4 billion tenge.