Family Planning Leads to Smaller, Healthier Families
Family planning services and reproductive education programs are beginning to make a noticeable difference throughout Ethiopia. The government’s health extension program has raised awareness about a number of reproductive health issues, from birth spacing to modern contraceptive methods. As part of the program, government-paid health extension workers are trained and sent back to their local communities to deliver family planning services, including providing injectable contraceptives. There has been a decrease in both the under-five child mortality rate and in the maternal mortality rate throughout the country because mothers are being educated about safer birth methods and their child’s health.
Rural health clinics in Ethiopia are now offering family planning services and talking to girls about the consequences of getting married or having children at a young age. Having a child affects all aspects of a young girl’s life, and causes many to drop out of school. Even those that do not completely drop out are less active because of their family responsibilities.
Villages with accessible family planning services are starting to see a change. Women are not giving birth at such young ages, they are having less children, and they are able to better care for their children.
Although there has been positive change, there are still many challenges. Cultural beliefs sometimes clash with the family planning information that the girls are receiving. Child marriage is still widespread, young girls are hiding their contraceptives from their husbands who disapprove, and girls are expected to have more and more children year after year.
The International Conference on Family Planning was held in Ethiopia this year, with influential figures like Melinda Gates attending, providing a platform to highlight both the successes and challenges that the country is facing. Family planning is crucial for women’s health and development, and allows girls and women to take control of their bodies and their lives. As Ethiopia continues to develop and family planning services become increasingly accessible, the maternal mortality rate will continue to decrease and there will be smaller, healthier families.