The Expert Committee noted target 3.7 of the SDGs to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes by 2030.
The Committee acknowledged that effective contraception contributes to advancing maternal and child health, and reduces unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion (particularly unsafe abortion). Access to family planning reinforces people’s rights to determine the number and spacing of their children. The Committee noted that the unmet need for contraception in many settings is high and is highest among the most vulnerable in society. The Committee agreed with the WHO Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research Department in supporting the principle of choice for people in the provision of family planning and contraception.
The Expert Committee noted that the available evidence supports the comparable effectiveness of the combined contraceptive vaginal ring to alternative hormonal contraceptive methods. It also noted that the contraceptive vaginal ring had a safety profile largely consistent with well-established safety profiles of other combined hormonal contraceptives, but had unique device-related effects (e.g. vaginitis and discharge).
The Committee noted that combined contraceptive vaginal rings are included in the WHO medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use, and that the WHO technical department supported the inclusion of the ethinylestradiol + etonogestrel vaginal ring in the Model List.
The Committee noted that the ethinylestradiol + etonogestrel vaginal ring is widely available including in generic forms.
Based on the evidence for efficacy and safety, recommendations in WHO guidelines, and in line with the philosophy of offering multiple contraceptive choices for people seeking family planning and contraception, the Committee recommended inclusion of the ethinylestradiol + etonogestrel vaginal ring on the core list of the EML.