Married Couples Urged To Practice Family Planning

Married Couples have been urged to practice family planning in an effort to increase the reproductive health of the family and to assist women to have good spacing of delivery.

Married Couples Urged To Practice Family Planning
Local nurses, supported by their ICRC counterpart, attend to a child in the hospital in Kodok, Upper Nile state. [Photo by ICRC/Pawel Krzysiek]

By Jok P Mayom

JUBA, 08 August 2016 [Gurtong] Ms. Gillian Butts-Garnett, who works as Programme Specialist/ Midwifery for the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) in South Sudan, explained to Gurtong how important it is for married couples to practice family planning.

Referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2016 definition of family planning, Gillian Butts-Garnett said, “It is the practice of allowing individuals and couples to choose the desired number of children they would like to have, at the right timing of birth and with the appropriate interval or spacing between children”.

She said that family planning is important since it could help to reduce maternal and infant deaths and diseases.

“It helps couples to plan for their baby and reduces financial, economic, health and social problems that can occur with unwanted pregnancy of pregnancies without adequate spacing”.

She recognised that birth spacing is practiced by some couples in South Sudan, but uptake is still low because of many factors including beliefs, lack of access to contraceptives and lack of information on the importance of family planning.

The UNFPA program specialist applauded the government’s commitment in its policy that allows the marriage couples to have family planning services, adding that the government has available service.

“Some health facilities are also offering family planning services and family planning education sessions are also held with communities and women.

Dr. Solomon Orero, who has been working as Senior Technical Advisor of Family Planning and Reductive Health, at the National Ministry of Health, said family planning is part of reproductive health. It the oldest medical practice, as old as humanity:

“It was acceptable in many cultures to encourage women to space their children and for that several taboos where associated with delivering children too close to each other. Now in modern time we have the medicine that can help the woman to space pregnancies and still go about doing their work, including enjoying their sexual life”

“Family planning does not mean stopping women from giving birth. It is enabling the women to have the number of children when they want them,” he said.

The health experts said, people do not understand what family planning basically means. What family planning means is deciding on the number of children; it is about the health of the woman, child; it is about family health.

“If well practice in its entirety then the woman will be healthy, will have time to pursue other social development and economic activities and look after the children well and contribute to the family well being”, said Orero.

Dr. Orero dismissed believes surrounding the family planning practices saying, In a number of traditional societies, they have had misconception about family planning, and that view point is propagated mainly by men not women.

“In our conflict prone Country like South Sudan, there are those who think that the Country had lost very many people and therefore they need to replace the people who are lost. That misconception is not correctly placed,” he said.

“Children who are born too close to each other are most likely to suffer from various problems and are more likely to die. A woman who delivers children very close together is most like to suffer from several pregnancy and delivery related complications which can result in death; so it is important that a woman spaces her birth for her own health and for the heath of her children”, he noted.

The Technical adviser said, among the methods of family planning, condoms protect the couples against sexual infection, adding that South Sudan has both types of condoms for females and males.

“The male condom is the most widely available, and the female condom is also available in many countries including South Sudan. For family planning, one can use what is called the dual method; for protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and against pregnancies”, stressed the experts.

Dr Orero said that family planning is the cheapest, cost effective, protections against women death in pregnancy, adding that if it is effectively used one can reduce the maternal death in South Sudan by 30% from a staggering rate of 2054 per every 100,000 live births.


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