To : Mr. Viktor Liashko
Minister of Health of Ukraine
Hryshevskogo Str. 7
Kyiv, Ukraine, 01601
СС: Denys Shmygal
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Re: Access to Emergency Contraception in Ukraine
Dear Mr Liashko,
We are reaching out to your office to urge you to remove obstacles to access to emergency contraception in Ukraine.
Human Rights Watch is an international nongovernmental human rights advocacy organization. In Ukraine and worldwide, we work on a wide range of issues, including protecting the rights and improving the lives of women and girls.
As you are aware, emergency contraception still requires a prescription in Ukraine. We note the ministry’s introduction, on April 1, of electronic prescriptions for all prescription medicines, as an alternative to hard copy.
We understand from doctors and partner organizations in Ukraine that under current conditions, requiring prescriptions, whether paper or electronic, for emergency contraception drugs is impractical and likely to cause harmful delays and negatively impact women’s ability to seek and receive necessary and time-sensitive treatment. We support the call in the public petition, filed in May 2023 with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and which has gained more than 25,000 signatures to date, to make emergency contraception drugs prescription-free and believe it serves as an important opportunity for the ministry to take immediate action.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), emergency contraception is safe and should be accessible and available as part of routine reproductive health care. The WHO has also stated that emergency contraception should be integrated into health care services in high-risk settings, including emergency and humanitarian situations. It is an essential part of ensuring comprehensive care following sexual violence as part of the clinical management of rape.
To be most effective, emergency contraception drugs should be taken as early as possible after unprotected intercourse, within 120 hours. Obstacles women and girls might face in peacetime in Ukraine accessing a healthcare professional and working pharmacy are even more pressing since Russia’s full-scale invasion. These obstacles can cause devastating delays in obtaining emergency contraception.
The Guidance endorsed by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics explicitly states that emergency contraceptive pills “are safe for all women” and “appropriate for over-the-counter, non-prescription provision.” The EU medicines regulator European Medicines Agency has long approved over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception and it is available as such in the majority of EU countries.
Timely access to emergency contraception is essential to ensuring the reproductive health and rights of women and girls. It is therefore critical that the government of Ukraine reduces barriers to accessing this care.
We urge you to remove the prescription requirement for emergency contraception drugs and take all necessary measures to allow for the sale of emergency contraception drugs without prescription.
We are grateful for your attention to this matter. We stand ready to provide additional comments or information to the Ministry if need be. You can contact us via email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Europe and Central Asia division