News / Africa

Family Planning for Women in Conflict Areas Seen as Crucial

Pregnant women watch television as they wait in the pre-natal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 10, 2010.
Pregnant women watch television as they wait in the pre-natal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 10, 2010.
James Butty
Wednesday is World Population Day, and the United Nations Population Fund says reproductive health is crucial for development.  

Dr. Dhammika Perera, senior technical advisor for global reproductive health programs at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said his organization believes that giving women in conflict areas access to family planning is the key to reducing maternal mortality.

“Right now, the estimate this year is that 222 million women in developing countries need, but cannot get access to, modern contraceptive methods, and we firmly believe that, if they are going to expand family planning access with the aim to cut down maternal deaths or pregnancy-related deaths, the target should be giving these women access to these methods,” he said.

Citing numerous studies, the IRC said women in crisis zones are more likely to die in childbirth than those in poor, but stable, countries.

“In these settings, health facilities are often destroyed or abandoned, supply routes are cut and violence impedes access to clinics,” it said in a press release.

Perera said, while it is true that many women in conflict areas may be more concerned with daily survival, it is also true that agreeing on the number of children to have may help avert hunger and poverty.

“If women and men could decide on the number of children they need, or the number of children they can support, that, in the long term, would lead to the aversion of situations where there is hunger, where there is poverty,” said Perera.

He said, if women could space their pregnancies by two years, evidence shows that it could reduce child deaths under five by 10 to 15 percent.

“So, that’s why we try to give couples the knowledge and the access to the contraceptive method that they can choose for themselves and control the family size, according to what they know is sustainable, and that, in the long term, prevent these issues of having to worry about food, worry about livelihood, and child education, and providing health care for children,” he said.

Butty interview with Perera
Butty interview with Pererai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Perera said there is a range of modern contraceptive methods available for women in challenging environments where they are most at risk of complications and death from unintended pregnancies. These, he said, include pills, injections, implants and IUDs.

He said the IRC is always considerate of the cultural sensitivities in the regions in which the group works.

“We make it a point to work not just on providing women access or focusing only on women, we work with community leaders, we work with religious leaders and we engage men in a big way.  Almost always, we work with the ministries of health and, through collaboration with the government, we get information about what is accepted and what is not, and then we adapt our program accordingly,” Perera said.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs