Government has challenged Mangochi District Council to step up efforts that will see improved up-take of family planning methods which is presently at 31 per cent in the district, the lowest in the country.
Principal Secretary for Ministry of Health and Population, Dr. Dan Namarika made the call on Saturday during this year's World Population Day at Makawa Primary School in Senior Chief Mponda's area in the district.
Namarika urged the district council and its partners to work together in sensitizing people in the district to embrace family planning methods so as to keep the population growth on check.
"Of all the districts in Malawi, Mangochi is the lowest with 31 per cent absorption rate of family planning methods followed by Nkhata Bay and Machinga which are at 40 per cent and 41 per cent respectively," said Namarika.
He added that other districts that are not performing well include Nkhotakota (51 per cent) and Salima (53 per cent). He said the national family planning absorption rate is at 58 per cent and that the districts doing well are Chiradzulu and Kasungu at 68 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.
Namarika said studies indicate that the lakeshore districts of Nkhotakota, Salima and Mangochi share common elements of culture and lifestyle, which he said, are make it difficult for people in these districts to take family planning seriously. He said similar cultural aspects are also prevalent in Machinga.
"Family planning is a serious issue and with decentralization that government has put in place, every council should take charge and make its own efforts and shine," said Namarika.
The PS added that as the study indicates that children in the district (Mangochi) are engaging in sex from a tender age, there was need to change the approach and to start providing information on sexual and reproductive health to the youth at as early as 10.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Assistant Resident Representative to Malawi, Dorothy Nyasulu said the UN agency would do anything to support government programmes in family planning.
Nyasulu said there was need for all stakeholders in the district to work together and find lasting solutions to the challenges at hand so that the situation changes for the better.
"We need to involve all stakeholders including chiefs, religious leaders and all other local structures to come up with home-grown ideas that can work for the district," Nyasulu emphasised.
Mangochi District Council chairperson, Omar Magombo admitted that as a district, Mangochi was not doing well in controlling the population growth.
Magombo said the district's estimated population of 1.2 million was, by far, nothing to smile about at present as the resources to cater for social needs are inadequate. He pledged that the district council would do something about it.
The commemoration of the World Population Day was done under the theme: 'Family Planning is a Human Right.'
The function was marked by displays by UNFPA, Health Policy Plus, Family Planning Association of Malawi, Population Services International, Banja La Mtsogolo, Youth Net and Counseling and Save the Children, among others.