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HEALTH

Where in France is there a shortage of doctors?

The French government presented on Thursday its plan to combat the country's lack of doctors in certain regions. But which areas of France suffer most from the shortage?

Where in France is there a shortage of doctors?
Photo: Depositphotos
To tackle the country's doctor shortage the French government has proposed to double the number of health centres, develop telemedecine services (for example consultations over the phone and online) and improve the delegation of tasks between medical professionals.
 
But where exactly in France is it easiest to find a doctor, and where is it hardest?
 
According to a survey from January 2017 by the French medical authority Ordre National des Medecins, there are eight parts in France where a higher than average number of doctors operate. 
 
The survey used the old regional system, when the country was split into 22 different regions instead of today's 13. 
 
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The dark blue areas on the map indicate the departments where there are more that 450 doctors per 100,000 people. The light yellow shows the worst case scenario, indicating the departments where there are fewer than 290 doctors per 100,000 people. 
 
The light blue, turquoise and green show the areas that fall in between the two.  
 
Unfortunately for those in Brittany, the region was among the worst served in France, along with Corsica and the old regions of Pays de la Loire,  Centre-Val de Loire, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie, as well as the country's overseas territories (except la Réunion). 
 
But there was some good news for those living in the south of France, with the popular Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region (PACA) region coming at the very top of the list. 
 
Close behind were the former regions of Aquitaine, Limousin, Poitou-Charentes, Bourgogne, Franche-Comté and the greater Paris region of l'Ile-de-France.
 
In these regions there are mostly upwards of 390 doctors operating per 100,000 people, and in some cases even more.  

HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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