Family planning is when or when not to have children, and the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other aspects of family planning include prevention, sexual education, management of sexually transmitted infections, pre conception counseling and management and infertility management.
Poor and marginalized women, particularly women living in rural areas, face significant challenges accessing family planning services. Young women face unique barriers as they can be inhibited from seeking family planning services by stigma and negative staff attitudes.
In Uganda, more than 70% of the population lives in villages. Many rural women will try to visit antenatal health services but due to poor facilities and a lack of equipment and materials in hospitals, they end up dying during pregnancy or labour. Information itself is not available to rural women and the majority gives birth on floors since hospital beds are either not available or not enough.
People have a right to complete information, access and choice to a full range of effective contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other STIs. Even when the information is there a rural woman interprets family planning differently. This is due to cultural believes; a man, to be called a man, has to have many children in order to get dowry.
Rural women need knowledge on how to both support pregnant women and mobilize more pregnant women to access antenatal services rather than visiting traditional birth attendants, but they cannot do this without volunteers such as village health teams who mobilize women at community level to access services.
Every minute a woman dies giving birth, and seven new babies die. A mother’s risk of dying from pregnancy related complication is about 250 times greater in a developing country than in an developed country. In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth and their consequences are still the leading causes of death, disease and disability among women of reproductive age, and newborn deaths are 40% of all child deaths in developing countries.
“The issue of contraceptives may expose teenagers to HIV/AIDS infection. In 2010, about 1,527 girls carried out pregnancy tests and 775 of them tested [HIV] positive. A reasonable number of these pregnancies were unwanted. Parents teachers are shy to talk about sex with children and this has left many children with no option but to experiment the action themselves,” revealed Sanyu Caroline communication’s officer at Joy for Children Uganda.
She added: “The rising population in Uganda is a great worry to the government. A lot of attention must be shifted to family planning use; people should be encouraged to give birth to children they can best take care of. So teenagers should be encouraged by their parents to focus much on what they want their future to be like.
“However, contraceptives must be given to girls who are willing to return to school after giving birth because these girls have become sexually active. Children should be told that HIV/AIDS still has no cure hence the need for their protection. The world is just starting to make progress on concerted and coordinated action to improve maternal, newborn and child health.”
Essential medicines are not taxed in Uganda, but since the beginning of 2012, the Uganda Revenue Authority is now treating contraceptives as taxable.
Referring to this, Asia Russell of the Global Access Project, who is also a member of Coalition Partners on Health Services, said: “Since the family planning summit [which took place in London, UK in July] we have been seeing troubling reports regarding the newly applied 24% tax on contraceptives–based on a new interpretation of existing tax rules.
“I know coalition partners are doing important work on trying to ensure this tax is waived–including outreach to media, Ministry of Health, Members of Parliaments, Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, civil society organisations, PACE and others. We can support those important efforts as a team so we can ensure this tax is waived as soon as possible. The minister is supposed to make a statement on the floor of parliament about the issue.”
The London summit on family planning aimed to:
- Revitize global commitments to family planning and access to contraceptives as a cost- effective and transformational development priority.
- Improve the access and distribution of contraceptive supplies.
- Remove and reduce barriers to family planning
At the summit, global leaders united to provide120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with access to contraceptives by 2020.
Unfortunately the Abuja declaration, the health commitment made by the African Union in April 2001 to allocate a minimum of 15% of national budget to addressing health issues, has not come to fruition. Currently, no country has delivered on the pledge without including donor funded experience in their budget.