USAID hails Malawi for promoting family planning programmes

Barely few weeks after the Malawi government secured its first national funding on family planning (FP) commodities as part of its 2013/2014 national budget, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has commended the southern African nation for its achievement on issues of family planning.

USAID health advisor Monica Villanueva said unlike some African countries, Malawi has made a lot of achievements despite its late involvement on family planning programmes.

Villanueva was speaking in Lilongwe on the first day of the third and last Population Reference Bureau (PRB) journalist’s series of workshop funded by USAID.

The series of workshops covered youth and health, youth and education and youth and securing family planning supplies respectively.

Children by choice: Family planning
Children by choice: Family planning

“I have to admit that Malawi has been recognised for its achievements even though it started family planning programmes in 1984, comparing to other African countries that started the programme long time back,” said Villanueva.

She outlined the country’s success basing on community programming, approval of the population policy as well as budgetary subvention for FP commodities.

In her presentation country coordinator for PRB Sandra Mapemba, observed that Malawi’s population is growing rapidly, with 15.3 million people currently. Given the high number of births per woman (currently on average 5.7), the population will continue to increase steadily if families continue to have, on average, six children, as Malawi continues to add 400,000 people every year.

“The fast population growth is indeed worrisome for the country’s social sector”, she said adding that this is because the country hasn’t concentrated much on young people who are key players to population growth.

Mapemba said Malawi has a long way to go in reduction of population growth as 90% of people know about the family planning commodities but they don’t understand how these FP commodities works.

She also partners need to work together , involving young people in family planning programmes by targeting communities, boarding schools and colleges.

“Two thirds of the population is below the age of 24 years making Malawi a very youthful country. This is a very sexually active group of people and these numbers will continue to grow quite rapidly if FP services are not made available to them”, read part of her presentation.

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