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“Family planning saves women’s lives”

…says UNFPA Country Rep

July 5, 2017 By Regina Pratt

Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, has observed that family planning saves women’s lives.

She made the above observation while speaking in a satellite event held on 4th July, 2017, on the theme: “Family Planning Empowering People, Developing Nations”.

The UNFPA Country Rep said family planning is good for women, men and children, adding that it ensures women to have children by choice and not by chance.

She said family planning could enable them to have a number of children they could adequately care for.

Dr. Dickson said this year’s World Population Day coincides with the London Family Planning Summit, which is the second meeting of donors and stakeholders that make up the Family Planning 2020 initiative, adding that the aim of the FP2020 initiative was to expand access to voluntary family planning.

She said the FP2020 would benefit an additional 120 million women and girls in 69 of the world’s poorest countries by 2020.

“Family planning is regarded as a powerful tool to combatting poverty. Universal access to family planning is not yet a reality particularly among the world’s poorest countries, as modern contraceptive use has nearly doubled worldwide from 36 percent in 1970 to 64 percent in 2016,” she said.

She said contraceptive prevalence rate is relatively low at 16 percent, but noted that such was a significant improvement since 2008 when the rate was only 8 percent and that, for women of reproductive age, the unmet need for contraceptives is 25 percent.

Dr. Kim Eva Dickson said women may have an unmet need for family planning for a variety of reasons which include lack of knowledge about the risk of becoming pregnant, fear of side effects of contraceptives, perceptions that their husbands, other family members, or their religion opposes family planning and or lack of access to family planning services as many of these barriers could be overcome through better information and counseling for both women and men.

Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madina Rahman, in her keynote address at the event, said acknowledging the importance of family planning to the health and well-being of the people, and the overall socio-economic development of the country, is at the top of government’s agenda.

 She added that the government is prioritising the provision of quality family planning services in the country.

“In this regard, we presently have over 1,300 functioning family planning clinics in all districts of the country. They are providing quality family planning services on a voluntary basis,” she said, adding that the recent research shows that family planning can prevent many more deaths.

The deputy ministers further said women who chose family planning were healthier and face lower risk of maternal death, noting that children born to women who space their pregnancies tend to be healthier and face reduced risk of death in their first five years.

She said according to the 2013 Sierra Leone Demographic and Health Survey, the maternal mortality ratio in Sierra Leone was estimated at 1,165 deaths per 100,000 live births, whilst the infant mortality rate was 92 per 1,000 live births.

She said the total fertility rate is estimated at 4.9 births per woman and there is a high prevalence of teenage pregnancies estimated at 28 percent.

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Sunil Saigal, remarked that “For a country such as Sierra Leone, which has emerged from the twin shocks of the Ebola outbreak and the collapse of commodity prices, and where recovery efforts have focused on building resilience in the country’s institutions, family planning is equally important in its communities.

He said family planning can play a significant role in building such resilience with better access to health and family planning services.

 “Achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, will depend significantly on how well the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people are fulfilled in catering for their unmet need for family planning,” he noted.

The event, which was organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, highlighted that investing in family planning is investing in the health and rights of women and couples worldwide.