‘Family Planning Can Prevent HIV/AIDS’

Source: Our Reporter - newtimesonline.com

Family Planning could “be one of the best-kept secrets in HIV prevention” and can help governments achieve national and international goals such as those outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This is contained in the fourth edition of “Family planning saves lives”, a publication by Population Reference Bureau, USA.

It said, over the last decade, family planning in many countries had lost focus amid shifts in international health and development priorities.

The publication said an estimated 137 million women worldwide have an unmet need for family planning.

To reach those women, it urged governments and donors to focus more attention and commit more resources to family planning programmes.

The publication said of the estimated 536,000 maternal deaths that occurred annually worldwide, more than 99 per cent occurred in developing countries out of which Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for 86 per cent.

It identified lack of knowledge about the risk of becoming pregnant, fear of side effects of contraceptives, perceptions that their husbands or religion opposed family planning and lack of access to family planning services as some barriers to family planning.

It also revealed that each year 2.5 million teenagers in developing countries choose to end unintended pregnancies by undergoing abortions that were performed either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both.

It said providing family planning information and services and counselling young people could significantly reduce these barriers, the number of abortions and associated risks of death and disability.

It suggested the repositioning of family planning as a multinational initiative to ensure that access to quality family planning services remain a priority for policymakers and health providers.