Making Family Planning a Priority

Dr Katie showing BOFWA staff how to insert Implants

Making family planning a reality requires dedicated, consistent capacitating; highlighting the key role of investing in family planning (FP) will have for the future global development agenda.

The Botswana Family Welfare Association (BOFWA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) convened a workshop on Adolescents, Family Planning in the era of HIV and AIDS.

The duo discussed among others bringing together role playing participants, including key actors and partners from government representatives, bilateral organizations, private partners and civil society to share experiences on achievements. It provided a platform for exchange and action dialogue, as well as recommendations for future programming.

The term "family planning" is often used as a synonym for "birth control," FP, however, do not only involve contraception and better economic planning for the family and national diversification. Family Planning also takes into account planning your child's birth for specific times, which benefits towards less health implications and planning for a child when you have challenges conceiving one. Reducing unintended pregnancies among young women could help increase their access to educational and employment opportunities. This would, in turn, contribute to sustainable socio-economic development, reduce poverty, and move us toward a more equitable world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 16 million of girls aged 15-19 and some 1 million girls under 15 give birth every year most in low and middle income countries. Complications during pregnancy and birth are the second cause of death for 15-19 year old girls globally and every year 3 million girls aged 15-19 undergo unsafe abortion. On average, about one-third of married adolescents in low- and lower-middle-income countries who want to avoid pregnancy use a modern method of contraception, compared with 58% in upper-middle- and high-income countries.

BOFWA and other stakeholders took into account of training health practitioners and key partners on family planning commodities in the era of HIV and AIDS. The core objective of the training was to increase knowledge amongst the partners on family planning. “Contraceptive services should be responsive to the special needs of adolescent women, be provided in a manner that does not stigmatize sexually active adolescents, and be offered in a respectful and confidential way.” said BOFWA Chief Executive Officer Una Ngwenya giving the opening remarks. She further stated that a vision in which every pregnancy is intended; every birth eagerly anticipated is an investment not to be challenged.

The discussion at the workshop focused on the importance of reforming macro-level fiscal policies on HIV and AIDS and family planning, as well as developing national action plans on family planning, The workshop was more engaging when the mid-wife nurses and participants were performing the insertion of the different family planning commodities, being the implant Intra Uterine Device (IUD) commonly known as the loop. Participants reviewed how these elements have been integrated into national planning and budgeting instruments and translated into programmes at the sectoral and local levels. Other discussion points included the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, strengthening the accountability of community engagement.

The workshop concluded with a forward-looking session underscoring how vital it is to include family planning priorities in the national agenda, and will thus be key to ensuring better results for women and girls in development.