SMC in a quagmire | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, December 09, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, December 09, 2009

SMC in a quagmire

Supply of contraceptives stops for 'inner chaos'

The number of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions is likely to rise because the nation's largest provider of contraceptive products has been inoperative since August due to power outages at its highest levels.
A top official from the NGO Social Marketing Company (SMC) said that the company is facing “inner chaos”.
The chairman of SMC Jalaluddin Ahmed refused to step down after his two year term ended in May this year and members of the SMC board of directors subsequently lodged a legal suit against him remaining in post.
The Supreme Court issued a moratorium banning any further meetings of the board of directors until the issue is resolved.
The company's operations have come to a standstill because decisions relating to the procurement of contraceptive products must be approved by the board of directors.
SMC has enough stock in its warehouses to last for the next three months but as the procurement process itself takes between three and six months, company insiders have said it is critical that the process resumes immediately.
“If SMC is unable to deliver family planning products it will be disastrous for the population control programmes of the country”, said a member of the National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT), who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Government officials have warned that the public is likely to face an acute shortage of contraceptives if they are forced to rely solely on supplies from the private sector.
The Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2007 estimates that 55.8 per cent of married women use some form of contraception.
Fifty-six per cent of married women take oral contraceptive pills, 18 per cent use a contraceptive injection, nine per cent rely on condoms and the rest depend on traditional methods.
Each year SMC supplies between 140-150 million condoms and 45 million packets of the monthly oral contraceptive pill.
According to the BDHS 2007, SMC has a 56.5 per cent market share of condoms and 44.8 per cent share of oral contraceptive pill purchases.
SMC Chairman, Jalaluddin Ahmed told The Daily Star yesterday, “The matter is now pending in the court and it is the court who will decide everything.”
Perveen Rasheed, Managing Director of SMC told The Daily Star yesterday, “I hope all the problems will be resolved as soon as possible and we can continue to fulfill our commitment to the nation by providing birth control products.”
SMC imports condoms using government-approved funds and distributes them to shops, kiosks and NGOs at highly subsidised prices.
It also imports oral contraceptives and makes them affordable for the low and medium income groups.
SMC is the world's largest privately-managed not-for-profit organisation to operate in a single country.

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