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‘Women should decide freely when and how to have children’

September 9, 2015 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Sierra Leonean women should be able to decide freely for themselves whether to have children, and when and how to have them, according to Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Madina Rahman.

She was speaking at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown yesterday while officially launching the National Family Planning campaign, whichseeks to improve on reproductive health by increasing demand for family planning services, as well as improving awareness and knowledge of family planning commodities and services.

Ms. Rahman stated that preventing a woman from choosing when to have children is not only a violation of her human rights, but such can fundamentally compromise her chances in life as well as opportunities for her children.

“Without family planning pregnancy will often come too early. Family planning has been identified as one of the three pillars in reducing maternal and infant mortality rate,” she said and added that life-threatening pregnancies might lead to increase risk in maternal and neonatal death.

According to her, the fear of Ebola infection and misconception by communities have reduced the utilisation of health services, especially family planning, as analysis by her ministry shows a considerable drop in the utilisation of family planning services in 2014.

Ms. Rahman stated that in a bid to restore essential health services and build a resilient health system, the government – through her ministry – has prioritised family planning in its nine months and six years post-Ebola recovery plans.

“We have set ambitious goals and today we are reconfirming our commitment and collaboration to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our families. All sectors have a role to play in expanding access to high quality family planning products and services,” she added.

The deputy health minister assured that her ministry, in collaboration with development partners, would ensure that every woman has the tools she needs to safeguard her health and that of her children.

Earlier, giving an overview of the campaign, Director of Reproductive Health, Dr. Santigie Sesay, said the campaign would last for one month and that all available commodities will be given free of cost to those eligible.

He maintained that family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children, spacing as well as timing of children.

“We want to build the confidence between the healthcare providers and beneficiaries. We are calling everyone to action to work as a team to address reproductive health issues,” he said.

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