In DepthThe Question


The Question

Should international sanctions on Zimbabwe be lifted now?

As Zimbabwe prepares for a referendum on a new constitution in March and a general election, diplomats are reconsidering the sanctions in place on ZANU-PF politicians.


Is the Premiership killing African football?

Manchester United games compete for viewers with local matches in African stadiums and on African television screens. Players and supporters are left wondering about the future of the sport on the continent.


Should Africa dream of feeding Asia?

As demand for arable land in China goes up, Asian investors are buying up land in Africa on the cheap. We ask two experts whether African governments should focus on food for export. Join in the debate.



Can the ANC survive another term of Zuma as president?

Amid widespread criticism of his tenure as South African president, Jacob Zuma will stand for another five-year term leading the governing ANC at its conference in Mangaung on 16-20 December, with or without challengers.


Is China's leadership transition more important to Africa than the US election?

As the Communist Party of China prepares to unveil its new leader at the 18th Party Conference, Americans vote for who will win the next four-year term as president. Which will impact relations with Africa the most?


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.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:47


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.



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.


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.TewoDros Melesse</SIGNATURE>
Director-General, International Planned Parenthood Federation</BLOC><BLOC><SIGNATURE>Dr Obielumani Ideh</SIGNATURE>
Catholic obstetrician Lagos, Nigeria, president of Doctors’ Health Initiative </BLOC></Article><Article><BLOC>web contributions 
on last month’s question:
<TITRE>Can Africa benefit from a Greek exit?</TITRE></BLOC><BLOC><TEXTE>While the argument isn’t coherent, maybe the upside for Africa is the perception of better ROI.</TEXTE>
via Twitter</SIGNATURE>

<TEXTE>Greece’s potential exit notwithstanding, the hefty direct economic impact of Greece on Europe would definitely spill over negatively on Africa. Europe is so intertwined with Africa through trade, workers’ reimttances and foreign direct investment. 
</TEXTE><SIGNATURE>Enock Nyorekwa
Kampala, Uganda</SIGNATURE>

<TEXTE>The Greek exit from the Euro could be an important indicator that globalisation is coming undone at the seams. Rules that work for certain types of economic actors in big countries, like removing financial safeguards, can really devastate smaller countries. When [they] go bankrupt, globalisation will also negatively affect bigger economies.</TEXTE> 
<SIGNATURE>Sameera Motala
Johannesburg, South Africa
<TEXTE>The disintegration of the Eurozone would potentially put to an end the free movement of labour across the region, thus perhaps immigrants of African descent would have an improved chance of securing jobs in European big economies, implying more remittances.</TEXTE> 
<SIGNATURE>Ibrahim Okumu
via Facebook</SIGNATURE></BLOC></Article></Root>

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