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Sask. medical students launch letter writing campaign on World Contraceptive Day

The next generation of doctors in Saskatchewan are trying to shed a light on the need for universal contraceptive access.

Natisha Thakkar, Adrian Teare, Wardah Mahmood, and Brynne Stebbings, are the medical students behind the group, Universal Access Saskatchewan (UAC Sask.)

“We had seen the landmark decision that British Columbia had made to fund all prescription contraception across the province and we saw an area of huge need in Saskatchewan for this,” explained Teare.

UAC Sask launched their letter writing campaign on Sept. 26, otherwise known as World Contraception Day, advocating for contraception to be covered by the provincial government.

The team explained that misconceptions and stigma around contraception have proven to be a barrier for many.

“These are very common conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dysmenorrhea that are all common and debilitating conditions that affect people in their daily lives and the oral contraception pill is a proven treatment for these conditions and not having coverage greatly impacts people’s abilities to access treatment,” said Thakkar.

As medical students, the group was inspired to put the content they were learning in the classroom into action.

“From education and experience in hospitals and clinics, we see the real life impact of lack of access to contraception. Everybody in a way is affected by contraception. Whether you’re the one taking contraception or your partner is or you know someone who is, that’s why we think it’s important that this policy is universal,” said Mahood.

“That’s one of the things that we learn most in medicine. Preventative medicine is always best from the standpoint of actual patient care but also from an economic standpoint,” said Teare.

According to the students, there are particular groups in Saskatchewan that are feeling the negative affects of this issue more than others are.

“Populations in particular in Saskatchewan like youth populations, immigrant populations and refugee populations are really dealing with the lack of contraception. That’s why this day is so important for us to talk about something that is taboo or something that people don’t always feel comfortable talking about,” said Mahmood.

The team is optimistic that their letter writing campaign will spark not only engagement, but also conversations about a difficult subject.

“We hope to demonstrate that this issue is important within our province and we hope to provide an easy, user friendly means to become involved in our campaign,” said Stebbings.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Health outlined access to birth control options in the province.

“In Saskatchewan, individuals pay for contraceptives according to their coverage, copayment and/or deductible. There are programs available to ensure cost is not a barrier to treatment for those with low income or high drug costs,” the statement read.

“Those on income assistance are eligible to receive listed contraceptives at $2 or no charge depending on eligibility, as are those under 18 years of age who are eligible for coverage under the Family Health Benefits program."

According to the ministry, residents who need assistance with the cost of their medications can also apply for the Special Support program.

More information on drug cost assistance in Saskatchewan can be found here. Top Stories

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