Nigeria: 90 percent of women are not using contraception

Nine out of 10 Nigerian women of childbearing age are not using modern contraceptive methods. This is one of the startling revelations at a stakeholders’ dissemination on the Universal Access to female Condom programme aimed at increasing demand and access to female condoms in Nigeria.

Studies have shown that the country has a low contraceptive prevalence rate of 10 per cent as regards modern family method which has resulted to unplanned pregnancy and increased maternal mortality rates. Indeed, reports have shown that the incidence of HIV in Nigeria is also relatively high among West African countries, especially among women and girls who disproportionately bear the HIV and AIDS burden in the country, both in risk and in care for those who are infected and affected by HIV.

To address the situation, stakeholders last week converged on Lagos to examine the challenges posed by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies as well as proffer solutions. According to the experts, the use of female condoms will help to minimise the occurrence of STDs, unplanned pregnancies and mortality rates in West African countries even as they urged women of childbearing age to urgently embrace the use of female condoms to reduce the risks involved in unprotected sex.

Read the full article: Vanguard (Nigeria)

More on reproductive health

Growth in world contraceptive use stalling: 215 million women’s needs still unmet

In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, recognized reproductive health and family planning as fundamental human rights. Delegates committed to making voluntary family planning services universally available by 2015. Now just three years from that deadline, at least 215 million women want to prevent or delay pregnancy but are not using effective contraception.

This ‘unmet need’ for family planning may be due to poor reproductive health information, social pressures, or insufficient access to contraceptive options. In Africa, more than 1 in 4 women have unmet need – by far the highest rate of any region. Since an estimated 40 percent of all pregnancies are unintended, ensuring universal access to voluntary contraception is key to stabilizing population. Access to family planning also improves child and maternal health and reduces the number of abortions.

According to the United Nations, 63 percent of partnered, reproductive-age women worldwide, representing about 740 million couples, practice some form of contraception. Almost 90 percent of them employ modern methods, which include oral contraception (“the pill”), condoms, injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and sterilization. Contraceptive prevalence was increasing until 2000, but growth has stalled since then.

Read the full article: Earth Policy Institute

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Philippines: Condom queues incite church tensions

Lorna Villar gave birth seven times in 14 years. After her last pregnancy pushed the 34-year-old’s blood pressure to dangerous levels, the Manila mom says contraception became a life or death matter. Villar now lines up in a crowded clinic between an auto repair shop and a kiosk selling sodas to avoid more pregnancies. The intrauterine device she had inserted free by a charity puts her among the 34 percent of Filipino women ages 15 to 49 using modern birth control — about the same proportion as in Myanmar and Iraq, United Nations data show. ‘It’s such a relief to know I won’t fall pregnant again,’ says Villar, sitting on the concrete floor of her windowless, 20 square meter (215 square feet) home in Tondo, one of Manila’s poorest neighborhoods. The 7,000 pesos ($160) a month her husband makes driving cranes and ferrying people in a tricycle taxi is barely enough to live off, she says.

One in five women of reproductive age in the Philippines have an unmet family planning need, the UN Population Fund says, leading to unintended pregnancies and population growth twice the Asian average. Relief may come from a reproductive health bill backed by President Benigno Aquino that promises free or subsidized contraception, especially for the poor, says Ugochi Daniels, the fund’s country representative in the Philippines. ‘This bill is the silver bullet to make the problem more manageable,’ says Carlos Celdran, an activist in Manila who was jailed for a day after a protest he staged at a 2010 bishop’s meeting in the city’s cathedral. ‘How can people not see this as an emergency situation?’ 

The bill has been re-filed and blocked in each three-year congressional term since it was introduced in legislature 14 years ago amid opposition from the Catholic Church — the faith of at least 80 percent of the nation’s 95 million people. This time, with presidential support, it may be put to a vote in congress in three months.

Read the full article: Bloomberg  (US)

More about choosing a smaller family

UK to host family planning summit in July 2012

The UK Government is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and partners to host a Family Planning summit in London in July 2012.

The event will aim to generate unprecedented political commitment and resources from developing countries, donors, the private sector, civil society and other partners to meet the family planning needs of women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

There are hundreds of millions of women in developing countries who want to delay or avoid a pregnancy but are not using an effective method of family planning. The UK Department for International Development’s priority for this year is to support national governments’ efforts to increase access to family planning in the poorest countries. This is part of the UK’s contribution to the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health “Every Woman, Every Child.”

Increasing access to family planning information, services and supplies has dramatic health benefits for women and children, preventing up to a quarter of maternal deaths. It is also an extremely cost effective investment towards the achievement of the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals and wider development outcomes. And yet, global attention and leadership on this issue has been lacking.

International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said:

“Every woman should be able to choose whether and when she has children, yet for 215 million women across the developing world this is not an option.

“The UK Government is determined to take action. We will work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and our partners to improve the lives of millions of girls and women in the poorest countries who want to avoid pregnancy and improve their health, education and future chances.

“That is why Britain will host a Family Planning summit later this year to help them take charge of their lives for the better.”

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UK: Global leaders call for increased efforts in family planning on Women’s Day

Leaders from the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health addressed members of both houses of the British parliament on Thursday, the International Women’s Day, calling for more efforts in family planning to improve reproductive health of women.

‘Reproductive health is an essential investment if we are to achieve a world with healthy families and communities, stable societies and abundant natural resources,’ said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and chairperson of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health. She noted that family planning is not only a fundamental right, providing women and girls with real choices in planning their futures, but also saves lives and builds the foundation for economic development.

A study showed that currently over 215 million women around the world wanted to delay or avoid their next pregnancy, but didn’t have access to reproductive health information or services to do so. Otherwise one quarter of all maternal deaths and one fifth of newborn deaths could be prevented, and up to 70 percent of all abortions could be averted. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said, ‘Every woman should be able to choose whether and when she has children, yet for millions of women across the developing world this is not an option.’ He said that the British government is determined to take action to improve the lives of girls and women in the poorest countries. ‘Britain alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will host a Family Planning Summit later this year to help women take charge of their lives for the better,’ he said.

Read the full article: Xinhua News Service (China)

Uganda: Reproductive health voucher scheme

In September 2008, the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) launched an output based aid (OBA) voucher scheme to bring maternal and other reproductive health services to rural communities in Western Uganda.  The project set out to deliver 50,456 safe deliveries and 35,000 sexually transmitted disease (STD) treatments.  […]  By December 2011, when the project closed, more than 136,000 people had been independently verified as having received a range of reproductive health services.

This note captures some of the key lessons learned from the implementation of the OBA voucher scheme. The project built on proven experiences by using lessons from a successful precedent. GPOBA’s pilot built on the success of KfW’s experience [a German government-owned development bank] which had already proved that a voucher approach improved marketability, simplified targeting of sales to the poor, minimized the administrative burden for service providers, and controlled overall project costs.

Source:  The World Bank

More on reproductive health

International Women’s Day 2012 – Reproductive health is the route to ending rural hunger and poverty

Population Matters fully supports the UN’s call, on International Women’s Day 2012, for the empowering of rural women as a contributor to the fight against hunger and poverty.  We endorse the call for the ending of discrimination against women, for access for women to resources and power, and for women-friendly policies.

However, these objectives can only be fully achieved if they are accompanied by universal access to reproductive health.  It is estimated that 215 million women who want to avoid pregnancy do not use effective family planning methods, often due to a lack of effective access to regular and affordable supplies. (Guttmacher Institute/ UNFPA)  The number of young people entering adulthood is at a record high level and it is critical to sustainable development that they are enabled to determine their own family size.

Despite increasing awareness that the continuing high birth rates in many countries is not in the interests of either women or society as a whole, overseas development aid for reproductive health has been declining in real terms. (UNFPA)  Yet it would cost only an additional $3.6bn per annum to provide universal access to modern family planning methods. (Guttmacher Institute/ UNFPA).

Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters commented: “The UN is right to call, on International Women’s Day 2012, for the ending of discrimination against women, for access for women to resources and power, and for women-friendly policies.  However, reproductive health is an essential component and should be at the heart of strategies for women’s equality.  Moreover, empowered women with access to reproductive health tend to have smaller families.  That is better for social development, for the environment and for long term sustainability.”

Women and population control

Towards the end of last year, October to be exact, the UN projected that the world’s population would reach seven billion, a scary milestone amidst increasing political and economic instability worldwide. More people will only place increased pressure on our environment, on the world’s habitats, forests, and resources such as water. But how does investing in women’s rights tie into slowing the world’s population growth?

Organisations such as the Guttmacher Institute and Population Action International (PAI) state that the number seven billion reflects the urgent need for people to be able to exercise their right to determine the size and spacing of their families. However, the majority of women and couples, especially in the developing world, are still unable to control their fertility. In fact, experts estimate that there are currently 215 million women around the world who wish to either delay or prevent pregnancy, but they lack access to contraceptives. Guttmacher states that these women account for more than 80 per cent of all unintended pregnancies in the developing world every year. What I [Anushay Hossain] find fascinating about this relationship is the focus it brings to the rights of the individual, especially women. What was groundbreaking at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo was the spotlight it put on women’s rights. This was when population policies stopped being about controlling population and slowing population, and instead started focusing on empowering women. The idea was that if women had access to education and higher-salaried jobs, they would choose to have smaller families, thus, lowering fertility rates.

So if we already know the way forward, why does it seems as though we keep moving backwards when it comes to allowing women control over their reproductive health and rights? Why is it that even though we established a roadmap in Cairo over 15 years ago, today in Washington attacks on women’s reproductive health, both globally and domestically, persist as foreign aid keeps getting cut?

Read the full article: The Express Tribune (Pakistan)

More about population and women’s rights

India: Dip in population in Kerala raises concern

If the results of the census is anything to go by, it is high time Kerala revised its family planning policy as the state may register negative population growth in the next two or three decades. Demographers point out that the sliding population will have far reaching consequences as the human resources of the state which has already registered a dip will come down drastically if plans to prevent such a situation are not devised.

Even while the country’s population is growing at fast pace, the 2011 census reveals that the population growth of the state is very low and it is negative in two districts. While the rate of population growth in four districts is very low, eight districts registered only nominal growth. ‘Given the slow pace of population growth, the state may register negative growth in the next two or three decades.  According to the census, the general fertility in Kerala is 1.8 which means that many of the couples have only one child,’ said Irudayarajan, Professor, Centre for Development Studies (CDS).

Read the full article:  The Times of India

More on sustainable population

China to ban ‘nasty’ family planning slogans

China is ordering local officials to stop using threatening slogans to enforce its strict ‘one-child’ policy, state media has reported.

The government wants to ban slogans like: ‘Kill all your family members if you don’t follow the rule’ and ‘We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child’ the Shanghai Daily said at the weekend. China, the world’s most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people, introduced the ‘one-child’ policy in 1979.  Despite calls for relaxation, Chinese officials say the policy is still needed, claiming over-population threatens the country’s development. But the National Population and Family Planning Commission aims to prevent zealous local authorities from offending the public or worsening social tensions with ‘nasty’ slogans, the newspaper said.

Several referred to forced sterilisation — one slogan said ‘If you don’t have your tubes tied, your house will be demolished.’ Another said ‘Once you are captured, your tubes will be tied. Should you escape, we’ll hunt you down. If you attempt suicide, we’ll offer you either the rope or a bottle of poison.’  The newspaper gave no indication of where the slogans were used.

Read the full article:  The Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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