For a very long time, family planning has had a feminine face. It has been left as a female issue. Africa is a patriarchal society where men make almost all decisions but it’s amazing how they become adamant when it comes to making decisions about family planning at household level. Honestly, if only men were involved and informed about the use of contraceptives, we would be at a better place, as a society.
Men lack information about contraceptives. While there exist only two contraceptive methods for them; condoms and vasectomy, their adaptation and use is quite low. In July this year, during the World Population Day (WPD), 94 men accessed vasectomy services because they were well informed about the services. More advocacy has to be carried out to reach more men.
Men are central when it comes to family planning programs at all levels. They need to start learning at an early age. They all have a responsibility when it comes to pregnancies and spacing the number of children.
Realistically, if men embraced well the use of contraceptives then we would have fewer unintended and unplanned teenage pregnancies, we would have fewer unsafe abortion cases, we would have healthy stable families where children are well spaced , we would have fewer maternal deaths, we would have fewer cases of HIVAids and STIs transmission.
Many a times men have been heard ‘denying’ pregnancies some claiming that they only had sex once with the woman. How naïve of them! They then disappear from the woman’s life leaving her depressed, confused and vulnerable! Weighing their current situation, some women are left with the battle of whether to carry on with the pregnancy or to terminate. Some even decide to end their lives all together!
With the current tough economic times, it’s time men took up the mantle. It is time they changed their attitude towards Family Planning. Besides, FP is related to sustainable development. High population density puts pressure on the fewer available resources.
The extend to which young people are empowered to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives, to live free from HIV and other STIs, to avoid unintended teenage pregnancies, early marriage and the negative consequences to their health, education and their well being would ultimately determine the realization of the Demographic Dividend in Africa and in turn the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Therefore governments need to ensure that we have enough budgeting to take care of our Sexual Reproductive Health needs for its people.