6 October 2016

Ethiopia: Family Planning in Reducing, Maternal, Child Mortality

FP service,given without payment, has been started some decades ago

Family planning (FP) has become one of the key instruments that help regulate nation's economic development and population growth balance. It fosters a healthy procreation and perpetuation. It as well allows the reduction of maternal, infant and child moralities. It has a great significance in protecting both would-be mothers and children.

But unable to introduce and access family planning methods and modern contraceptive techniques, many adolescent women , potential child bearing young women suffer a life-long anxiety. As such women do not resist some cultural barriers and related socioeconomic downsides, they were exposed to psychological influences and cultural discrimination. To prevent complications, adolescent women encounter in connection with unwanted pregnancy and related issues, they need equitable and accessible awareness deepening activities on family planning and contraceptive tools.

Speaking at a recent panel discussion organized in connection with World Contraception Day ceremony 26 Sept 2016 Maternal and Child Heath Expert Sr. Aster Teshome said Ethiopia is one of the three counties in sub Saharan Africa with the most rapid increase in modern contraceptive use. This is attributable to rigorous family planning programmes by the government and NGOs, through improvement in the health care infrastructure and government attention to meeting the MDG goals.

She further said that access to reproductive health services remains an issue for young women because of cultural, medical and financial barriers. Lack of access to reproductive health services result in increased risk of unplanned pregnancy, unsafe abortion; Sexual Transited Infections (STIs), HIV and early school attrition due to pregnancy. Accessing family planning can reduce maternal deaths by 40 per cent ,infant mortality by10 per cent and childhood mortality by 21 per cent.

She further said that trends of modern contraceptive use 2002-2011 EDHS indicated that Young women's modern contraceptive use has increased substantially over the last decade. Increasing use could be due to the current changes in urbanization, education of girls and other development activities. However, in Ethiopia 28 per cent of adolescents aged between 15-19and 24 per cent of young women aged between 20-24 have had unintended pregnancies. Studies show that young people are significantly more likely to choose a friendly provider with an adequate supply of family planning commodities, she said.

Although modern FP service,given without payment, has been started some decades ago , it has not been so effective. Hence, expanding community-based distribution of FP services at the women's door level through health extension program has been underlined.

FP is considered key for the country's development . But Ethiopia is one of the three counties in sub Saharan Africa with the most rapid increase in modern contraceptive use. The result is ascribable to rigorous FP programmes, she said.

Lack of awareness about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) matters, specifically about methods of contraception, is an important step towards gaining access to and using a suitable contraceptive method in a timely and effective manner.

Despite the increasing use of contraceptive methods by adolescents, many remain at risk of unintended pregnancy, for contraceptive method failure, inconsistent and improper use, lapses between discontinuing a method and starting a new contraceptive.

Providing contraception that is easy to use and highly effective with proper counseling regarding side effects affords adolescent women the opportunity to avoid unintended pregnancy.

She further said globally there is an estimated 153 million women with unmet need for FP;around 18 million women under the age of 20 give birth every year, representing up to one-fifth of all births, with almost 95 per cent of the cases occurring in developing countries.

Furthermore, young women of many poor communities are less likely to obtain contraceptive services. In sub-Saharan Africa uptake of SRH services among youth aged 15-24 remains low, placing millions of young people at risk of poor RH outcomes.

High adolescent birth rates(120 per1,000 girls aged15-place young girls in increased risk of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth represent a leading cause of mortality among adolescent girls.

Sexually active young people are also at risk of STI, including HIV. Young women are disproportionately affected by HIV with prevalence rates.

Furthermore, identifying strategies to make services more accessible and attractive to both current and future users, there is a call for knowing and understanding what prompts youths to choose between different types of contraceptive services.

What is more, leaders commitment should be stepped up to build the capacity of service providers thereby to improve quality of services to meet the specific needs of youths. Increasing the utilization of SRH services by young people is therefore critical to improve health outcomes, she said.

Modern family planning service was started in 1966.After 1980 it expanded FP services. The adoption of the population policy took effect in 1993. In1996, a Guideline for FP Services to guide health providers and managers to expand and ensure quality FP services in the country was released .

The German Foundation for World Population (DSW) Country Director Feyera Assefa said DSW has been engaged in creating linkages between population dynamics , sexual and reproductive health , poverty , environmental protection and sustainable development at the national level . DSW's target area of interventions are adolescent and other young people , predominantly girls . Offering youth training, capacity building and financial support to the youth are given due emphasis. DSW has given special emphasis to playing its role in easing youths' various reproductive health and other socioeconomic challenges.

Feyera added that like other international days, world contraception day is an epoch making occasion on which DSW,aong its partners, celebrates and disseminates awareness about contraception .

Bayer East African Ltd Head of Health Care Progrmmes Bemard Mutua said that Bayer operates placing focal attention on cancer and family planning. Bayer has been engaged in a global innovation enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of agriculture and health care . It actively sets trends in research-intensive areas it is also committed to the principles of sustainable development.

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