Family planning awareness by health workforce and medical students

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Bisma Naveed, a 4th year medical student from Pakistan. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Promotion of family planning in countries with high birth rates has the potential to reduce poverty and hunger and avert 32% of all maternal deaths and nearly 10% of childhood deaths. It would also contribute to women’s empowerment, achievement of universal primary schooling, and long-term environmental sustainability. In the past 40 years, family-planning programs have played a major part in raising the prevalence of contraceptive practice from less than 10% to 60% and reducing fertility in developing countries from six to about three births per woman but still the unmet need for family planning is high.

Health Workforce can encourage the concept of family planning among the public by giving them information like the health benefits of birth spacing & family planning:

  • Delaying having children can give people the opportunity to complete education or further studies
  • Waiting to become pregnant at least 24 months after birth can lead to health benefits for the mother and baby.
  • Allowing the mother to recover physically and emotionally before she gets pregnant again, and faces the demands of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
  • Limiting the number of children means more resources for each child and more time for the parents to dedicate to each child.
  • Helping couples in a sexual relationship not to be worried about the woman getting pregnant.
  • Preventing STIs like HIV/AIDS.
  • Preventing unwanted pregnancies for women over 35 that are often risky for their health and can lead to complications for both mothers and infants.
  • Younger women can delay pregnancy until their bodies are mature and they are ready in terms of their life course.

They can help a woman to choose a method that is right for her by

  • Assessing the situation, her needs and information gaps
  • Helping to prioritize solutions, narrow down options and make a good choice
  • Checking if she is eligible to use the chosen method
  • Providing useful information regarding the method.

They can tell them the methods for contraception like

  • IUD
  • Female sterilization
  • Combined pill
  • Implants
  • Diaphragm
  • Fertility awareness-based methods etc.

CSE is a critical means of improving young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and their ability to make safe and informed decisions. According to a 2013 systematic review of comprehensive adolescent health programs, “the scarcity of sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, as well as family planning interventions, represents the biggest missed opportunity and most glaring programmatic and policy gap for adolescent girls.”

Globally, over three million adolescent girls ages 15-19 undergo unsafe abortions each year, and approximately one-third of all annual abortion-related deaths are among women younger than 25.

Medical students can play a vital role in this by telling the risk factors & complications of abortions & also directing them to wait at least six months before another pregnancy, if they had recently experienced an induced or spontaneous abortion, to reduce risks to their health and to their future babies.


Author: Prof. John Cleland MA

About the author

Ms. Bisma Naveed is an IFMSA member and 4th year medical student from Pakistan.

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