* COVID-19 is posing an urgent threat to women’s health and empowerment by limiting access to family planning and healthcare services.
* Recognizing the need to provide health information and education in relation to contraception, FOGSI has announced its intention to raise awareness and to support the use of chatbot service ‘Ask Tanu’
* Bayer Zydus Pharma’s ‘Ask Tanu’ is a Facebook 24/7 digital chatbot using artificial intelligence that stimulates human conversation to provide women with credible information on contraception, helping them make informed choices
* Representatives from Bayer, FOGSI and other organizations in Asia Pacific jointly pledged their commitment to be ‘HerHeroes’ to empower women in making informed choices about family planning and their health
On the eve of World Contraception Day, the Federation of Obstetric & Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Bayer Zydus Pharma Pvt. Ltd. today announced their collaboration to drive increased adoption of chatbot service ‘Ask Tanu’. This digital technology will enable more women nationwide to seek credible and scientifically accurate health information and make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Covid-19 has shifted the majority of healthcare resources to combat the spread of the pandemic, disrupting the provision of other essential health services, including women’s healthcare and contraception. The Lancet World Report has estimated that the lockdown could leave roughly 26 million couples in India without access to contraception, resulting in 2.3 million unintended pregnancies and over 800,000 unsafe abortions, which is the third leading cause of maternal mortality in India.
With the rising strain on the country’s healthcare resources and decreased access to medical professionals, there is a growing need to overcome the obstacles posed by the pandemic. Digitalization offers a way forward to empower informed choices and help improve women’s health. Taking into consideration this critical need, FOGSI’s professional network of over 500 gynaecologists and obstetricians will raise awareness of ‘Ask Tanu’ nationwide as a credible source of women’s health information. The chatbot will provide 24/7 support, providing women with easier access to reliable health information and education in relation to contraception.
Commenting on digital technology as a means of fulfilling an unmet need for health information for Indian women, Dr. Shobha Gudi, Chairperson of Family Welfare Committee, FOGSI said, “Many women are putting off face-to-face medical consultations for seeking professional advice due to fear of contracting the virus. There are of course other contributing factors such as non-availability of clinical services and lack of transportation. But even prior to the pandemic, there was a huge gap in accessing family planning and contraceptive information. Data from our 4th National Family Health Survey clearly shows that few healthcare workers were speaking about family planning to women who were non-users, and amongst the users, only few women were informed of the potential advantages and disadvantages of various contraceptive methods. Even though the family planning program in India is long-established, there is still significant reticence associated with contraception and women hesitate to talk about it. Chatbot services such as ‘Ask Tanu’ can help fill knowledge gaps and enable and empower women with trusted information from verified sources, so they can make informed choices.”
This World Contraception Day, healthcare professionals, policymakers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and women influencers in Asia Pacific also rally together to call for women to prioritize their health and their family planning needs, even during the pandemic. With COVID-19 posing an urgent threat to women’s health and ability to plan their families, Bayer today launched the #HerHero campaign to support women in taking action to prioritize their health and take charge of their lives. Women’s influencers and representatives from key organizations in Asia Pacific came together today at the #HerHero Virtual Forum, organized by Bayer in collaboration with the Population Council and other partners, and jointly pledged their commitment to be ‘HerHeroes’, those who support and empower women in their communities to help them make informed choices. They also called for wider public support to join in the pledge and give voice to women’s health needs and empowerment.
“Despite the progress made in empowering women’s lives over the last 60 years, barriers still exist today, made worse by the current pandemic. ‘Ask Tanu’ was designed to overcome such barriers, and we are proud to collaborate with FOGSI to increase the reach and impact of this digital solution, so that more women can seek and benefit from this reliable source of information. Moreover, in India and across the Asia Pacific region, this day also marks the launch of Bayer’s #HerHero campaign, which rallies key stakeholders and women’s influencers to call for a wider support network of everyday heroes to champion and help women prioritize their health and their family planning needs, even during the pandemic,” said Manoj Saxena, Managing Director Bayer Zydus Pharma & South Asia Head at Bayer.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of € 43.5 billion. Capital expenditures amounted to € 2.9 billion and R&D expenses to € 5.3 billion.