The Faculty of Public Health welcomes the call for the reclassification of oral emergency contraception to a General Sales medicine to improve access, so that all those requiring it can obtain it in a timely manner.
Access to contraception is a basic human right and oral emergency contraception is an important component of full contraceptive choice. The ability to decide when to have children, and how many, is key to achieving good maternal health, reducing infant mortality and reducing poverty.
Cuts to public health budgets have put significant pressure on local authorities. Consequently, some areas have restricted access to oral emergency contraception in pharmacies by postcode or age, as identified by the 2019 All Party Parliamentary Group in Sexual and Reproductive Health Inquiry on “Strengthening access to contraception beyond the pandemic”. Such measures serve to create and exacerbate health inequalities.
Provision of oral emergency contraception as a General Sales medicine is an important measure to help address inequalities in contraceptive access. The Faculty of Public Health would welcome future action that goes beyond this to further increase access for all.