INTRODUCTION: Medical authorities in South Africa have defended the use of a contraceptive drug described as unsafe at a United Nations Committee hearing in London.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
GV INTERIOR Black women sitting round table at family planning clinic in Johannesburg
SV Family planning worker taking details from patient
CU Women waiting
CU Bottle of Depo-Provera
CU Nurse injecting woman
CU New patient talking to Dr. Elin Hannar through interpreter
CU Nurse examining smear tests 1
SV Women handing in forms and money and health worker giving out tablets
SV Dr. Hannar talking to Visnews reporter Kevin Hamilton
SPEECH ON CASSETTE (TRANSCRIPT) SEQ. 9: DR. HANNAR: "When you talk about contraceptives, really and truly, if you want a hundred percent safety against pregnancy, every single method does in fact carry some sort of side effects that have to be monitored, and carefully, and I would say that of all of them, Depo-Provera is one for which there has been no recorded death for one reason, and although there are other problems with its side effects, I would still say it's probably one of the safest. In the right circumstances, with monitoring them, with caring for them, it is part of a preventive health service as well as a help towards women who can get very desperate when they get pregnant, and I think that what they do to themselves in terms of trying to abort is far worse than what I might do by giving them an injection. And finally, I would like to say that nobody is ever held down and given an injection. They have been coming back, as you saw, four years, five years, with a smile, and saying its' time and I want another one."
Background: INTRODUCTION: Medical authorities in South Africa have defended the use of a contraceptive drug described as unsafe at a United Nations Committee hearing in London. The drug -- Depo-Provera -- is widely used in the country as an injected contraceptive. Anti-apartheid campaigners had complained that the drug was being used on black women who are unaware of its effects.
SYNOPSIS: Depo Provera is available in many countries, but has not been approved in either Britain or the United States. In South Africa, it is widely used in family planning. During a recent United Nations human rights hearing in London, witnesses said women were not being told exactly what the drug was.
At the hearing it was said the effects of the drug were not fully known but tests on animals had indicated possible side effects. In South Africa, it was claimed, women were given the drug without being informed of alternatives. But the South African authorities have rejected the charges. At family planning centres like this one in Johannesburg, it was claimed, Depo-Provera provided a safe and efficient method of contraception.
Estimates about the use of Depo-Provera say about one and a half million women are using it and about ten million have done so in the past. Yet tests in the United States failed to approve failed to approve the drug. An appeal by the manufacturers is pending. In South Africa, the chairman of the Johannesburg Family Planning Association, Dr. Elin Hannar, strongly endorsed the drug in an interview with Visnews reporter Kevin Hamilton:
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