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Do you know your contraceptive options?

DR BOIMA
HEALTH ISSUES

Over 200 million women worldwide would like to avoid a pregnancy but are not using an effective method of contraception.

Reasons for this vary from person to person but are mostly related to ignorance, lack of supplies or resources, cultural and political barriers and poor quality of services. Unintended pregnancies in the United States results in about 40% of those pregnancies being aborted per year, has negative effects on women's health and education and the health of new-borns, and imposes a considerable personal burden as well as a financial burden on families and the society.

There are lots of different methods available to cater for all kinds of needs, each method differing in how it works, how long it lasts and how effective it is. People have different tastes and preferences, some have illnesses that contradicts them from using one form of contraception, some cannot afford and many other reasons. There is definitely one available out there that suits you, your lifestyle, and your partner so read through the article, talk to your doctor and get protected!

There are two main types of contraceptives, hormonal methods and barrier methods. Hormonal methods introduce hormones into one’s body to make it act differently, or stop the woman from ovulating completely, or just make it difficult for sperm to reach the egg that is released. Barrier methods work by stopping the sperm from getting anywhere near the egg. The pill – the oral contraceptive pill otherwise known as “the pill” is the most commonly used contraceptive. It comes in a pack of 28 tablets comprising of 21 tablets containing hormones (active) and 7 sugar pills (placebo) that need to be swallowed by the woman at the same time every day.

It is widely available, easy to use and very effective. Because the pill requires daily compliance, failure rates calculated on the basis of “perfect use” differ from real-world failure rates calculated on the basis of typical use. Annual failure rates with typical use of oral contraceptive pills are estimated at 9% for the general population (91% efficacy). The other major problem with the pill is that there is no protection against sexually transmitted illnesses including HIV.

Contraceptive patch – this is a small stick-on patch that is placed by the woman on the skin on a weekly basis and releases hormones. It is highly effective at 91% success rate and is easy to use. The issues with the patch are that it may be visible to other people, get loose and fall off and does not protect against STIs. The injection – the injection contains hormones and is given by a healthcare profession in the muscle every 3 months. It is highly effective at 94% and readily available in most private and public health facilities. However the injection may cause irrational bleeding patterns in the woman and does not protect against STIs.

The implant – this is one of the highly effective, long-lasting contraceptive methods that we have to date. Implanon is a small hormone-releasing silicone rod that is placed by a healthcare professional just under the skin and can last up to 5 years. Its efficacy stands at 99% and it is easily reversible upon removal. It does not offer protection against STIs though.

Intrauterine device (IUD) – IUD is a T-shaped flexible device that is put in the uterus by a healthcare professional. It can either come in a hormonal or copper from. The hormonal IUD is effective for 5 years and is highly effective through releasing hormones. Copper IUDs on the other hand can last up to 10 years and are similarly effective. Both the IUDs have been reported to have less than 1% of failure rates. The only downfall with IUDs is that they can cause irrational vaginal bleeding and crampy abdominal pains, and they do not protect against STIs. Despite their proven safety in women and very high efficacy IUDs are used by only 5.5% of women who use contraception in the United States.

The male condom – this is the most and widely used barrier method and if used properly; it does not only offer effective protection against pregnancy but STIs as well, including HIV. The male condom is easy to use and is easily available. However it should be used 100% of the time when there is copulation and can disrupt sex, so only 82% efficacy has been reported factoring in such inconveniences. A condom can be used in conjunction with other hormonal contraceptives to ensure dual protection against pregnancy.

Female condom – just like the male condom, the female condom ensure effective protection against both pregnancy and STIs. However, it has not been so popular because of its size and the fact that it has to be inserted hours before the sex takes place. For those inconveniences it hasn’t been so reliable and its efficacy is only reported at 79%. Diaphragm – This is a small dome-shaped device that is placed over the entrance of the uterus by the woman to stop sperm from entering. Its efficacy is 88%.  The only issue is that it interrupts sex and does not offer protection against STIs.

Withdrawal method – this is when the penis is removed from the vagina immediately before ejaculation. It is good for spontaneity (and it is free!) but not the most reliable method as pre-cum can contain traces of sperm enough to make one pregnant. It does not protect against STIs either. Its efficacy is standing at 78%.

Fertility awareness – this is knowing one’s menstrual cycle and targeting to have sex at those times when the woman is least fertile. It does not come at any cost but it is less reliable especially because a person can forget her dates or when the woman does not have a regular cycle. It offers zero protection against STIs. It is 76% effective in those who follow it correctly.

Sterilization– both men and women can choose to have the surgical or invasive procedures that ensure permanent type of contraception. For women it is called bilateral tubal ligation and for men it is called vasectomy. These procedures are highly effective at 99.9% efficacy. The good (or bad) thing about them is that they are non-reversible. They also do not offer protection against STIs. Others – there are other methods like spermicides, cervical cap, sponge, contraceptive rings, emergency contraception etc. that you can learn about from your doctor’s office.

For comments or questions please email agboima@yahoo.com

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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