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Rovaniemi offers free contraception for youth

1/8/2018 11:44 AM

The city aims to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs mainly through distribution of free contraceptives among its residents aged below 25.

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The city of Rovaniemi has undertaken a project to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) mainly through distribution of free contraceptives among its residents aged below 25.

The initiative has been implemented in full force since beginning of this year.

For many years now, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), too, have been urging the municipalities to offer free contraception to young people. Yet, so far, only a few of them have taken any action towards that end. 

According to the THL statistics, in Rovaniemi, the number of induced abortions among young women has been significantly higher than the national average in the recent years, while chlamydia has been the most common STD among the young population. While these diseases and unwanted pregnancies have diverse social and psychological ramifications for the people concerned, they also cost the municipality dearly.

In 2015, the abortion costs of the under-25 women alone totalled to about 17,500 euros in Rovaniemi, and the costs of immediate care for the infections came to no less than 35,000 euros.

One reason to why young people don't use contraceptives is that they can't afford them, says the administrative senior physician Paula Reponen. 

Against this background, free contraception is held to be an effective cost-cutting measure. Although the estimated cost for the city is about 150,000 euros a year, at least the same amount will be saved in social and healthcare costs for maternity leaves, abortions, and disease treatment, Reponen says. 

It has been seen in the case of the south-western City of Rauma that undertook a similar initiative six years ago of providing free contraception among its residents aged below 20. That project reported a remarkable decrease in its abortion rates and the number of STD cases. The project outcomes also show that it saved the city up to 100,000 euros a year on reduced abortions alone.

City of Rovaniemi- Daily Finland Report