More women in Africa using family planning

Thursday December 1 2016

Women carrying their babies queue for consultation during a past family planning campaign. PHOTO | FILE

Women carrying their babies queue for consultation during a past family planning campaign. PHOTO | FILE 

By EVELYN LIRRI

The number of women and girls using modern contraception methods has grown by 5.3 million or 22 per cent in East and Southern Africa since the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative was launched in 2012.

According to a mid-term review report, Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia registered some of the highest numbers of women and girls who are using modern family planning methods.

In Kenya, an additional 1.15 million new users have been added since 2012 while Uganda has registered an additional 844,000 new users. Ethiopia registered an additional 1.5 million new users while in Zambia that figure grew by 524,000 women and girls.

In countries covered by the FP2020 initiative, up to 30.2 million more women and girls have been accessing modern family planning methods in the past four years, according to the report.

The FP2020 initiative aims to ensure that 120 million more women and girls in 69 of the world’s poorest countries, mostly in Africa and Asia have access to some form of modern family planning method by 2020.

But, despite this progress, health and development experts say the goal to reach 120 million more women and girls with contraceptives by 2020 is not on track.

According to the report, the midpoint target is short by up to 19.2 million new users.

Kanyanta Sunkutu, a technical specialist in charge of reproductive health for UNFPA in East and Southern Africa, said several barriers still stand in the way of ensuring increased uptake of modern family planning methods.

“There are many myths and misconceptions out there about family planning. Unless we deal with them, we shall continue to see slow uptake,” said Dr Sunkutu. He noted that gender norms also affect the way women access family planning services, especially in Africa.

“All these contraceptive methods deal with women. And because contraceptive interventions mostly focus on women, it places too much burden on them and not the men, who often are responsible for making decisions in homes,” said Dr Sunkutu.

Pills, injectables and implants are some of the common contraceptive methods that women are using, according to the report.

Dr Sunkutu said giving women several choices helps them take up a method that suits them, thereby making it easy for them to use it effectively and consistently.