Family Planning & CSE: Core of a Healthy Lifestyle

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Sharif Mohammad Sadat, a third year medical student currently studying in Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He 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.

The scope of family planning goes beyond the contraception, including sex education, marriage-counseling, advice on sterility, birth control, education for parenthood, sex education, teaching home economics & nutrition, providing adoption services etc. It covers not only the birth spacing methods but also terminal contraceptive methods. It focuses on the health aspects of the mother to reduce maternal mortality, morbidity of women of child bearing age and nutritional status, preventable complications of pregnancy and abortion. Moreover, the health aspects of the fetus, the infant and the child’s health is a concern. It focuses on reducing child mortality and enhancing the survival of the baby with proper nutrition, child growth and development.

Family planning is crucial for everyone within the reproductive age to promote health of every member of the family. For the medical students, it is essential to have core knowledge, understanding of family planning concepts, and competency in communication skills with the patients. There is a very low level of awareness about family planning and contraception among people. In spite of the high percentage of pregnant women who receive antenatal care, a lot of people are still unwilling to use contraceptives.

Health workforce can provide meaningful family planning support by following specific strategies to take us closer to our goal: A secure world for all.

  • Health workers being concentrated in urban areas cause health worker shortages in rural areas leaving harder-to-reach populations without access to care. Increasing the density of doctors, nurses, and midwives in those areas can have enormous impact in providing services for all.
  • Improving access to and use of contraception is particularly important for girls and youth. Unfortunately, few young women are offered long-acting reversible methods, such as implants and intrauterine devices, which are 20 times more effective than short-acting methods, such as: OCP. The challenges for youth who want to use long-acting methods include lack of access, provider stigma, community resistance, and myths and misconceptions.
  • Implementing “Task-sharing”, a concept that refers to systematic delegation of tasks by expanding the levels of health care providers. It involves training mid and low-level cadres of health workers—such as clinical officers, auxiliary nurses who can appropriately deliver health services. This can ensure availability of family planning methods at the primary care level.
  • Advocate for family planning as a key ingredient to reaching a demographic dividend. Family planning brings value for money in many ways. It helps couples achieve their desired family size, which means more resources are available to feed, educate and support their children.

The whole process relies in part on the communication skills and attitudes of the healthcare providers. Health workers as well as the medical students all over the world can play a vital role in counselling the eligible couples (currently married couples wherein the woman is in the reproductive age) to take the concepts of family planning earnestly, and act accordingly for a better and healthier future. Comprehensive sexuality education should begin in early adolescence and continue through a person’s lifespan.

About the author

Sharif Mohammad Sadat is a third year medical student currently studying in Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is an active member of Bangladesh Medical Students’ Society, a national member organization of IFMSA. Apart from being passionate in the field of medicine, he is a youth visionary leader who wants to bring a positive change in the society. He is also an advocate of youth involvement in global health initiatives and integrate social development with medical knowledge.

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