Senior Fellow Berk Ozler on Female Contraceptive Use in Cameroon

World Bank economist and UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow Berk Ozler discussed his recent work educating young women in Cameroon about effective contraceptive use. Many of these women face barriers such as inaccurate information, side effects and long-term costs, he said during the Oct. 24, 2018, Senior Fellows Lecture. Widespread myths among the local community discourage young women from using birth control, he said. Of the young women who do use birth control, 22% stop because of reported side effects. Meanwhile, long-term costs prevent young women from using birth control at all. On the provider side, Ozler said inadequate on-the-job training leaves nurses unprepared to provide proper counseling. The providers’ implicit bias for or against birth control pressures young women into making decisions that may not be best for their reproductive health. Subsidies incentivize governments to invest in more birth control, but not in proper contraceptive education, he said. Ozler and his team developed a tablet-based app to address these issues. Based on a counseling framework developed by Cameroonian experts, the app enables nurses to counsel young women on birth control options. Ozler said the app will reduce provider bias, increase agency among young females and streamline the information collection process. He is confident the app will increase effective contraceptive use among young women in Cameroon. Ozler, the lead economist of the World Bank’s Development Research Group, is one of 12 new mentors in UCLA Luskin’s Senior Fellows program.— Myrka Vega 


 

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