Why Family Planning Use In Uganda Still Low — Report
By Sarah Achen
Family planning is a very important intervention for reducing fertility since it enables women and their partners to prevent unplanned births, but sadly a few people are using it.
This was revealed by UNFPA’s Assistant representative Dr Edison Muhewzi on Wednesday at a science café at HEJNU offices in Ntinda.
Quoting a report: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend of July 2014, Dr Edison Muhwezi UNFPA’s Assistant representative says that Uganda’s population dynamics and emerging economic opportunities can be turned into a valuable demographic dividend if the country adopts the policy road map followed by the East Asian Tigers. The demographic Dividend refers to accelerated economic growth that arises when the birth rate declines rapidly and the ratio of working –age adults significantly increases relative to dependents. This change can accelerate economic growth through increased productivity of the “excess” labour force if the economy generates enough high-quality jobs, greater household savings, and lower costs services provided to a young population.
Dr Muhwezi says that the high fertility in Uganda is alarming and the only way to get headway is to encourage Ugandans to embrace family planning in a bid to achieve vision 2040. Uganda is one of the four countries in Africa with high fertility rates. The solution is to achieve rapid fertility decline and create an age structure with more working-age adults than dependent children is important but not sufficient to harness the demographic dividend. Indeed, the this dividend is not automatic; countries must earn it by implementing policies that will not only accelerate rapid decline in fertility, but also ensure that the resulting surplus labour force is well educated, skilled, healthy and economically engaged.
Currently, Uganda needs to reduce fertility rate to give way to fewer children. The rate of men taking vasectomy stands at only 1% simply the women feel that their men may fail to perform sexually and this indicates lack of access to information regarding family planning.
According to the 2011 Uganda DHS, Ugandan women have an average of 6.2% children. The desired number of children is 4.8% for all women and the unwanted fertility rate, which gives fertility rates only for births that were wanted, is 4.5%. This means that on average, Ugandan women have 1.7 more births than they desire.
Furthermore, the 2011 UDHS data show that 34.3% of all women of reproductive age who would like to postpone their next birth by at least two years or stop childbearing altogether are not using a modern method of FP and have unmet need for family planning. Ensuring that all women who are in need of FP have access to and are able to use effective contraception would, therefore, go a long way in reducing fertility in Uganda.
Muhwezi says 35% of normal women are using modern contraceptives, 26% past. however 28% of women who was to it but can’t access family planning and has reduced from 34% making some progress and we need to do more as family planning is very important because the issue of fertility rate is a problem.
Studies show that no country can develop if it has little dependence burden. Family planning is good for the women because when she spaces her children, she becomes productive as well as reduce maternal deaths.
Dr Charles Kiggundu a consultant gynecologist from Mulago hospital says that Uganda stands at 2.5m pregnancies per year which shows that the country is not doing very well in family planning since both women and men are reluctant to embrace it, adding that three factors are responsible namely; fears, side effects and lack of information. 49% are planned pregnancies, 50% unplanned and 42% are accidents.
Goreti Nakiwala a midwife from Naguru Teenage and Information Centre adds that they are one of the centres providing young adolescent services, and family planning is one of their rights.
“We used to receive young people as young as 14 years and we could give them contraceptives, we had to discontinue it as it came with complications. We have tried to reduce teenage pregnancy, there are still myths about the latter,” she says.
Nakiwala narrates a nasty experience where a teen mother came for family planning but when she went back home and her man found out, he returned with her demanding it be removed because he didn’t approve his woman using any method.
Why high fertility rate?
Dr Kiggundu says that Uganda is one of the fertile countries in Africa and if we don’t encourage people to use family planning then they will get unintended pregnancies yet in the end, they may resort to unsafe methods to terminate it. 35% of women are married and 4% use natural method, it means that people are having sex. Male involvement is critical since they are the decisions makers.