No reason to delay the revitalization of national Family Planning programme

Date: 12/10/2008

Family Planning (FP) is an essential part of human rights and a public health intervention with enormous benefits for individuals, families

Family Planning (FP) is an essential part of human rights and a public health intervention with enormous benefits for individuals, families.
" FP programme proves to help attain the target goals of Millennium Development Goals, especially the 5th goal on reducing maternal mortality because ensuring access to FP services alone would reduce 25% of maternal death," explained Ms. Martha Santoso Ismail UNFPA Assistant Representative.

By enabling women and their husbands plan the pregnancy and space their children means ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted. This way couples would take good care of the health of both the mother and the unborn baby, through ensuring balance nutrition, health care, shared chores, among other things. After childbirth, they would give their attention for the healthy growth of their children and allocate family resources so the children can enjoy opportunities for their self development. "This means promoting the welfare of children," said Ms. Ismail.

FP programme also contributes to promoting responsible behavior because through its reproductive health education, including on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS, FP programme empower people to make the best decisions for their own reproductive health.

FP also contributes to eradicating poverty and promoting equality because women with fewer children would have greater opportunities to pursue their education, involve in economic empowerments, have a career and/or engage in other types of activities for her own self development. "With empowerments and equal opportunities, women would play a role in improving their family's welfare and enhancing women's status in the society," said Ms. Ismail.

Indonesia has seen successful implementation of FP programme. Since it was first introduced in the 1970s, the country's fertility rate (the number of children that a woman would have in her child-bearing years) dropped from 5.6 children per woman in 1970 to 3.3 children in 1990. For its success, Indonesia was awarded with UN Population Award in 8th July 1989. The fertility rate further fell to 2.6 children in 2003 which remained unchanged until 2007.

With growing preference for a small family size, FP can help couples realize this plan. Population experts have emphasized the importance of stabilizing population growth for successful development because countries with high population growth would have to allocate substantial amount of investment only to cope with the growing basic needs of the large population. In addition, experiences in developing countries also link high population growth with environmental degradation due to the high demands for housings, food supplies, clean water and energy consumption - all of which affect the environment.

" The public in general, including decision and policy makers, community and religious leaders are not aware about the beneficial impacts of FP. Through awareness raising activities, we can change this and mobilize their involvement in making sure that FP is integrated into development priorities for the wellbeing of individuals in their respective areas. Given its many benefits, there is no reason to delay the revitalization of FP programme," Ms. Ismail said.