Family planning shortfall, a misery for women and the nation

By: Cyrus Bengo

On 26 October National Statistical Office (NSO) released a report projecting that Malawi’s population will hit 32 million by the year 2048. This is coming in, when the country is already failing to provide social services to its almost 18 million citizens.

In this special report our reporter tells agony of Hellen in Kasungu district. He has established that family planning illiterate is the major contributing factor to high population growth and he has talked to authorities who offers the solutions to contain the population.

Helen has had more share of her misfortune , originally from Balaka district after the death of her father Mcford Kasulu in 2016 she was forced to drop out from school and got married in 2018 , her husband is a Tobacco farmer (Tenant ) in one of the estates in Kasungu . Helen in a space of 3 years gave birth to 2 sets of twins making them to be 4 , it was her third pregnancy when doctors at Kasungu district hospital advised her of taking family planning methods which they will be still enjoying mutual affection as wife and husband.

As most of antenatal hospitals in Malawi are patronised by women alone , it was the case with Helen who her husband Clifford Jere of Gwaza village Traditional Authority Khosolo was not there , she promise to come the following day together with Clifford. After much deliberation Clifford insisted it was his rights to enjoy intimacy with his wife without hindrances , a fifth child was born.

The couple endeavoured to obtain a traditional method from a certain traditional doctor in town who guaranteed them of total effectiveness of the herbs, alas the hell broke loose Helen found herself again at the antenatal hospital for a sixth child. It was this time when health worker introduced vasectomy method as the best for the couple which Clifford misunderstood it as castration .

According to a snap survey Akometsi did in the districts of Kasungu, Mzimba and Lilongwe it has been established that most couples are still using traditional methods , most of them failed to give examples of family planning methods saying children are God given gifts. This kind of mentality has unleashed a number of anxiety to the families, society and the government inclusive. As we report National Statistical Office (NSO) has released a report projecting that the country’s population will hit 32 million in 2048.

Health expert, Maziko Matemba thinks as a country we are failing to put more resources on family planning methods which its effect is more than what we can spend.

Matemba: we are failing

” Malawi population growth is high than what the country can sustain to protecting its citizens .The increase in population is putting pressure to government the major challenge we are having as the country is that most of the population policies don’t talk to each other and also lack of sustainable funding to family planning for example, Malawi only provide MK200,000,000.00 to family planning against the population of 18 million people and also a strong religious stand against Family planning and Safe Abortion is encouraging the population increase ” .

Asked what will be end results if government continues to ignore it Maziko said.

“when this issue is not attended to it will continue putting pressure to government to provide public services that they cannot due to limited resources it has or it can generate including land pressure and also can make the country ungovernable in the end”

He has however asked individuals to follow family planning methods at all times saying some are easy to use for example the use of condoms and contraceptives are critical including raising awareness at all times. At government level he said there is need to fully fund Reproductive health departments and other related sectors that are key in addressing reproductive health issues as a matter of priority but also review of policies that are contradicting each other.

Speaker of the national assembly, honourable Catherine Gotani Hara on capacity development workshop on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Lilongwe on 9 September stressed the need for members of Parliament to be enlightened on (SRHR) issues for them to appreciate such matters.

” MPs should be given understanding of how important it is for them to lobby government to give enough resources to (SRHR) . We want MPs to be able to appreciate these ” she said .

Director of reproductive health at ministry of health Fannie Kachale bemoaned lack of funds to implement sexual health projects saying the ministry needs an estimated amount of MWK 8.9 billion but current allocation is MWK 179 million only.

It is plainful clear that if we continue to play deaf ears to (SRHR) we will not progress in all the projects we are taunting to implement , our main fucus should be on these services , while women go to family planning clinics to access ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies men take back seat from this marital challenges.

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