Freetown, Sept. 8, 2015 (MOHS) – Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation II, Madam Madina Rahman has said that Family Planning has been identified as one of the three major pillars in reducing maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate.
Addressing the launching of the National Family Planning Campaign on the theme: “Children By Choice, Not By Chance” at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, Madam Madina Rahman reiterated that family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to improve the health and save the lives of mothers and children.
She said a survey by UNICEF Sierra Leone found out that two fifth of girls give birth for the first time between the ages of 12 and 14 years, adding that such girls are not physically ready, mentally or financially strong to become mothers adding that they don’t want to give up school or the chance to develop better lives for themselves.
Madam Rahman observed that the fear of Ebola infection and misconception by the communities due to Ebola virus disease outbreak reduced the utilization of all health services including family planning. She said analysis of the Ministry of Health Demographic Health Information System data on family planning utilization in 2014 showed a drop in uptake of family planning services considerably.
She reiterated that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation through its Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme is restoring family planning services using the Supply Enabling Environment and Demand creation in the Post Ebola recovery plan.
Madam Rahman disclosed that the Ministry of Health and its partners are expanding static centres and outreach mobile clinic services throughout the country to meet the demand, and that health care worker are being trained on delivery of quality family planning to create the necessary impact.
UNFPA Reproductive Health Advisor, Dr Mohammed Elhassein commended the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners for the huge efforts put in place to make the campaign a reality.
He said the launching of the first ever Family Planning Campaign signals the commitment the government, UNFPA, UN Agencies, donors and other Family Planning stakeholders have put in place to reduce maternal mortality and to fulfill the reproductive rights of the population.
Dr. Elhassein told his audience that the country maternal and child health situation requires collective efforts to save the lives of women, children and young people.
Representing the UNDP Resident Representative, UNAIDS Country Director, Dr. Michael Frank Gboun commended the government and the Minister of Health and Sanitation for demonstrating commitment towards promoting the health and wellbeing of all in the country especially the recent success over the Ebola virus disease that plagued the country for about 15 months.
He said the UN recognizes Reproductive Health and Family Planning as not only a health issue, but as a human rights and development issue, hence the key interest in its promotion.
Dr. Gboun opined that the UN recognizes that unplanned pregnancies, especially among adolescents, constitute a huge challenge, as it significantly impacts the future of young girls and society as a whole. He said increasing access to contraceptive, especially to adolescent and youth, and ensuring that those are used correctly and consistently can go a long way in reducing the burden on families and society at large.
He said the priority of the UN is to safeguard the well-being of all populations, particularly the empowerment of vulnerable women, adolescent girls, and young people, adding that the UN is committed to working closely with government and local partners towards the promotion and protection of family planning and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Speaking on behalf of the Implementing Partners, the Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL), Mr. David Williams said the repositioning of family planning is crucial in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
He said family planning has been identified as a key component of Primary Health Care, Reproductive Health and plays a major role in reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.
The ceremony was chaired by the Director of Health Systems Policy, Planning and Information, Dr. Samuel Kargbo. Performance by the Sierra Leone Female Musicians Association formed part of the event.