In a mostly conservative society like ours in Malaysia, many are embarrassed to discuss family planning and use of contraception. And, unfortunately, it is often left to the women to figure this out, especially after marriage. Sometimes, the people we go to for advice might not give reliable information. Meanwhile, there are those who are hesitant to go to the doctor or gynaecologist for fear of prohibitive costs. With this in mind, this is why Bayer, a global company invested in the health care industry, decided to launch ‘Ask Maya’. Basically, ‘Ask Maya’ is an app for family planning where information about contraception can be easily accessed. Launched in conjunction with World Contraception Day 2018, women can find out all they need to know about family planning in a private manner.
Why Family Planning And Use Of Contraception Is Important
According to a Maternal Mortality Report by the World Health Organisation, 50% of unplanned pregnancies will end up in abortion. In Malaysia, unofficial statistics indicate a 14% likelihood. This may sound small, but consider that this 14% actually equals to 90,ooo terminated pregnancies.
There are many reasons for pregnancies to end in abortion. It could be due to health reasons, unplanned pregnancies between couples, and unwanted pregnancies (for example, in rape cases).
Family Planning Helps Raise The Economic Position of Women
In a recent talk, ‘Sexual & Reproductive Health Awareness and Unintended Pregnancies’ by Dr John Teo, a consultant 0bstetrician & gynaecologist as well as a member of the Medical Committee of Federation of Reproductive Health Association of Malaysia (FRHAM), mentions that research has shown that with each pregnancy, the economic position of women go down by 50%.
Passionate about reducing unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, Dr Teo asserts that contraceptions allow women to be productive and successful in their careers. And the effect is not just on the individual, but also on society. Better education and awareness about contraceptions can significantly decrease unwanted pregnancies. This includes teenage pregnancies. In turn, this will lower healthcare costs related to abortions, often the costs borne by the government.
“Contraception is the cheapest tool to improve poverty,” says Dr Teo. Better family planning will not only save money for the government, it also allows for sensible financial planning for couples.
In a study done by Teo and his colleagues, Helen B Lasimbang and Lidwina Edwin Amir – Knowledge Attitude and Practice of Contraception by Doctors and Women in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (2017), their findings indicate that “some doctors may be giving inappropriate advice and management” to patients. This is worrying as it could lead to ineffective family planning measures. That is why there needs to be a credible and reliable source of information about family planning and contraceptives that women can refer to for accurate advice.
Ask Maya – The App For Family Planning and Contraceptive Information
Seeing as how there is a need for a reliable source of information that women can go to and ask about anything about family planning and contraceptives, Bayer conducted some research and came up with “Ask Maya”, which functions like an app that dispenses advice on the subject.
“Maya” is actually a chatbot that can be easily accessed through two platforms. Users can either go to Bayer’s website, www.howuknow.com and the chatbot will pop up, or search for “Ask Maya” on Facebook Messenger. The website also contains information on all contraceptive methods and FAQs on its usage. Of course, if there’s something you need to know that’s not on the website, just ask Maya.
Maya is online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thus, you can ask “her” anything anytime you have a burning question about any family planning method. The answers are immediate. You need not worry about the credibility and accuracy of the answers as well. Bayer actually worked for more than a year with the Federation of Reproductive Health Association of Malaysia (FRHAM) and the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) in creating content for the website and the chatbot. As an app for family planning and contraception methods, Maya is one useful friend, indeed.
Not Just For Females, But For Males As Well
Maya is not just for females, but for males as well. As explained by Ms Shasila Nadarajan, a representative from Bayer’s Women’s Health Care team, “It’s not about starting a family as soon as possible, but about educating yourself about family planning and what’s available.”
“Ask Maya eliminates the conversation barrier as many consider subject taboo,” says Shasila. “It’s still a taboo topic for many. This way, Maya can help in a private manner as it’s a private chat or DM.”
As your BFF – Best Friend for Family planning, Maya can really help to strengthen the position of women in society. It helps with family planning, which in turn can help women focus on their priorities. With proper family planning, women are more free to progress in their career according to their own pace and timing.