As I tried to catch up on the latest news on Africa, I stumbled upon the recent joint announcement of Pfizer Inc. the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to expand access to Pfizer’s injectable contraceptive, Sayana® Press (medroxyprogesterone acetate), for women in the world’s poorest countries. Some of the targeted countries named for this expansive contraception project include Burkina Faso, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, Uganda and my own country Nigeria.
This announcement was immediately picked up and praised by many news agencies in the western world including BBC News where it was described as, "The one dollar contraceptive set to make family planning easier."
One cannot help but wonder, "easier" for whom? For Ugandan, Kenyan and Nigerian women? Or for the multi-billionaire Pfizer, Gates and CIFF?
Reading this announcement and the related news articles further, I realized that this project is not a new one — rather its inception can be traced back directly to the extensive contraception fundraising project launched by Melinda Gates two years ago during the Family Planning Summit of 2012.
All of it seems now to be actualized in this cheap contraceptive device targeted towards the poorest women in the world.
So by sheer determination and will, these wealthy figures — Pfizer, Gates & CIFF, have succeeded in rolling out in the world of the poor, the $1-per-piece device designed to become the prevalent self-injectable contraception of the developing world — the wonder device that will make it all so easy to sterilize millions of women across my Continent.
They claim that this would be the pathway to development as well as the emancipation and elevation of African women.
They tell us that it will give African women control over their lives.
But I dare to ask them exactly how sterilizing the wombs of the poorest women in the world would give them control over famine, draught, disease and poverty. It absolutely will not make women more educated, or more employable. This extensive contraception project will not provide food or safe drinking water for women who submit to it. It will not make African women happier or more satisfied in their marriages. No. It will only make them sterile at the cheapest rate possible.
This is certainly not what the African women have asked. It is not the miracle that our hearts crave amidst the trials and difficulties of Africa. But yet in a world of shocking cultural imperialism, it is what our "betters" have chosen to unleash upon us.
And what is more insidious is that this product being launched is the self-injectable version of the highly controversial Depo-Provera that has been put into question in the developed world after having been shown in various studies to carry dangerous and even lethal side effects.
In October 2011 the New York Times published an article entitled Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V. This article was based on a cohort study by prestigious medical Research journal The Lancet that clearly stated that "the risk of HIV-1 acquisition doubled with the use of hormonal contraception especially the injectable methods."
And what is most shocking is that this study was partly sponsored by the Gates Foundation and yet after these findings, they have gone ahead to launch this high-risk product in targeted countries of their choice (Uganda, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and many others) — countries where the women may never be able to raise their voices when the lethal effects set in.
In addition to the HIV-related effects of this product, there is also the doubled risk of breast cancer demonstrated by various studies like the