Family planning: how can health workforce provide meaningful family planning support

(Credit: Unsplash

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms.Tasmima Islam Oishi, a student of Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. 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.


Roughly one-quarter of the world’s population — 1.8 billion people — is between 10 and 24 years of age.Most  pregnancies  in adolescents  are unplanned  and  often result  in unsafe  abortions; they  are also  associated with higher risks  to  both  mother  and her  newborn. Adolescents  have maternal  mortality  ratios  that are usually  twice  as  high  as  those of  women in their twenties.

Among the many sexually active adolescents worldwide, large numbers want to avoid, delay or limit pregnancy but lack the knowledge or resources to make decisions regarding their reproduction. Socio-cultural and structural barriers often prevent adolescents from achieving their reproductive desires, which can result in unintended and unhealthy pregnancies. Family planning assists the couples and individuals to understand their right in making the decision for their family and responsibility regarding their decision on the number and timing of the pregnancies. To help adolescents better access and use family planning services, we must understand the barriers they encounter .And we have to understand what works in empowering them to overcome these obstacles.

To provide meaningful family planning support we need to utilise the health workforce effectively. By dividing the task force on one side we can provide the services by the health care providers -doctors/nurses/midwives and on the other side the medical students can educate the people on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and have target groups that will educate other people on sexual and reproductive health issues, which will produce a multiplier effect and ensure they can make proper informed decisions with regards to their sexual and reproductive health. CSE needs to be delivered in the context of the range of values, beliefs, and experiences that exist even within a single culture. It enables learners to examine, understand, and challenge the ways in which cultural structures, and behaviours affect their choices and relationships within a variety of settings.

To enhance the skills and confidence of the health workers, systematic approach to standardized, competency-based training on family planning care-contraceptive counseling; pregnancy options counseling; advocacy; screening for pregnancy intention should be conducted that will enable the  health workers to provide quality family planning services, with adequate supervision and monitoring, and clear protocols for referrals. A learning-by-doing approach that is interactive, participatory, supports learners, and ensures high-quality practicum training for everyone.

It is seen that happy, satisfied clients are more likely to continue to communicate with their providers and encourage friends and family to seek care as well. But to achieve this kind of effect in family planning—essentially, to ensure people who need it most receive the best services and solutions—every health worker must be highly skilled and confident in the services they provide. And when girls and boys are provided with education, information and services to protect and promote their sexual and reproductive health, they are better equipped to engage in healthy decisions and behaviors. Such positive outcomes therefore will enable them to achieve these aspirations by providing them with appropriate, high-quality information and services.

About the author

Tasmima Islam Oishi is a student of Bangladesh Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is a member of IFMSA and currently serving as Liaison officer of SCORA, BMSS-Bangladesh. She is a youth advocate who focuses on  social developmental issues related to health,women, children and their rights.

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