Men shun family planning as Malawi adds 400,000 people annually

Malawi’s reproductive health experts have raised concern over reluctance by men to embrace family planning methods in the wake of population boom, which is currently at around 15 million people.

Malawi as a country adds about 400,000 people each year to its population with the nation’s use of modern contraceptive methods (family planning prevalence rate) currently at 42 percent.

Reproductive health experts from public and private health sector in separate interviews during Population Reference Bureau (PRB) media tour, pointed out that most men are reluctant to accept family planning methods largely due to lack of knowledge.

Malawi for a productive and healthy population.
Malawi for a productive and healthy population.

“There is a need for community sensitisation for people especially men to understand the importance of family planning. The lack of knowledge and civic education campaigns on modern contraceptives methods is a reason why most men don’t know much of family planning,” explained Austin Kapira District Family Planning Coordinator for Blantyre.

Kapira also bemoaned attitude men have towards family planning, revealing most women were forced to secretly enlist on contraceptives without their spouses’ knowledge for fear of reprisal.

He revealed that in Blantyre district, in a month one man attends family planning sessions, adding some parents were currently putting their children especially teen-girls on contraceptives, which is allowed under Sexual Reproductive Policy.

“If we are to control the population growth, there is a need for everyone to embrace family planning. The problem of many people not understanding what contraceptives are, deeply hinges on the lack of messages. Most men would permit their partners to go family planning but there are some against it.

“Blantyre district has 260,000 women of child bearing age, which is a huge figure. 42 percent of them use contraceptives but some women are taking up the methods without their spouses consent for fear of reprisal, which we feel is not proper because couples are supposed to support each other,” he added.

Banja La Mtsogolo Centre Manager for Ginnery Corner clinic, Pascal Simbota disclosed that 15 out of 100 men escort their wives for family planning but very few seek vasectomy- a contraceptive method for men.

“Between August 1st and December 31st 2013, only two men underwent vasectomy, which is not impressive. Our clinic last year provided family planning services to 3,717 clients-hugely women- in addition, we distributed both male and female condoms to 8,238 clients. We expect men more to embrace family planning methods this year to ensure that together we are able to control the population growth and assist in developing our country,” said Simbota.

He further revealed that the clinic’s outreach team, last year, managed to put 1,242 women especially in rural areas on free contraceptives while supporting three Ministry of Health operated sites with mobile delivery of long-acting and permanent family planning services.

Malawi’s population has grown rapidly from almost 4 million in 1966 to 14.8 million 2012. United Nations (UN) population projections show that Malawi’s population could easily reach 23 million in 2025 and 37 million in 2050 if families continue to have, on average, six children.

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