Saskatchewan Medical Students Lead Charge for Universal Contraceptive Access

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In Saskatchewan, a group of future medical professionals are keen to illuminate the necessity of universal contraceptive access. This group, named Universal Access Saskatchewan (UAC Sask), consists of prospective doctors Natisha Thakkar, Adrian Teare, Wardah Mahmood, and Brynne Stebbings.

The quartet was sparked into action after witnessing the transformative decision by British Columbia to finance all prescription contraception province-wide. They identified a corresponding need in Saskatchewan, and thus UAC Sask was born.

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Synchronizing their initiative with World Contraception Day on September 26th, UAC Sask introduced a letter writing campaign, conveying the need for contraceptives to be funded by the provincial government.

Teare, Thakkar, Mahmood, and Stebbings highlighted the fact that preconceived notions and stigma towards contraception often constitute obstructive barriers. Oral contraceptive pills, they explain, serve as effective treatment for common yet debilitating diseases such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and dysmenorrhea. And yet, a lack of coverage obstructs many people’s access to this crucial form of treatment.

The group’s medical training played a crucial role in fueling their advocacy. Bearing witness to the real-life impact of limited access to contraceptives in hospitals and clinics, they perceived the urgency firsthand. They believe that it is of utmost importance to have ubiquitous contraceptive coverage policies, as the reach and impact of these medications extend beyond individual users.

Teare argued, “Preventative medicine is always best from the standpoint of actual patient care but also from an economic standpoint.”

Specific demographic groups in Saskatchewan, including immigrant populations, refugees, and the youth, are particularly burdened by the lack of contraceptive access, according to the students.

With their letter-writing campaign, the team is not just aiming for political engagement, but also triggering a discourse about a typically avoided subject. As Stebbings highlighted, “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.”

Currently, Saskatchewan’s provincial government does not subsidize contraception, independent of the prescription’s purpose.

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