In DepthThe QuestionDoes Africa need more investment in family planning?


Posted on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:22

Does Africa need more investment in family planning?

On 11 July, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a summit on family planning in London. The hosts argued family planning had taken a back seat for two decades, and needed to be put back on the agenda.

TEWODROS MELESSE Director-General, International Planned Parenthood FederationYes People often look at population growth at a macro level, but we should look at it at the family or community level. In some communities, girls get married at a very young age, their bodies are not ready for childbearing, they can develop fistula and their chances of dying are much higher. And if the young woman dies, her child is an orphan. Girls who become mothers can't finish their secondary education; this in turn means they have less chance of finding employment. And when you have a lot of unemployment and poverty, you have political instability. Women who can't space out their pregnancies are also at risk of complications. Africa has one of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world. We need to invest in family planning at the community level to make it accessible. There should be comprehensive information about all contraceptive methods so that women find the right option for them. And this need not be difficult: if you can get Coca-Cola in every remote village, you [should be able to] get contraceptives too. This is why we need more investment and support from the government●


DR OBIELUMANI IDEH Catholic obstetrician Lagos, Nigeria, president of Doctors’ Health InitiativeNo What Africa needs is more investment in health care. Contraception is a distraction: $4.6bn was committed at the Family Planning Summit in London; imagine what you could do if you invested this money in improving health care systems as a whole. Contraception will not help reduce deaths in childbirth or infant mortality: it is just a population control tool. If we really want to support women in childbearing, we should invest in community midwives who attend pregnant women one on one and can help them access care if problems arise. The state of Ondo in Nigeria has recently been commended by the World Bank for successfully implementing this model, and they have shown that all it takes is $120 to get a woman through childbirth. We [Doctors' Health Initiative] think there is room for debate on family planning, but it is unequivocally reserved for Natural Family Planning (NFP): Africans do not need one more pill, condom or implant to successfully plan their families. NFP teaches women and their spouses to understand their own bodies and use that knowledge to both achieve and prevent pregnancy●

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:47

Subscriptions Digital EditionSubscriptions PrintEdition










Music & Film



Keep up to date with the latest from our network :


Connect with us