There has been a rise in women taking up family planning.

Julius Ssenabulya, Program Manager of the Vanuatu Family Health Association (VFHA) says more women are currently taking up family planning compare to 10 to 15 years ago.

Ssenabulya says the VFHA have a goal to make sure that 75% of Vanuatu’s population have access to reproductive health information and services by 2022.

The goal was launched in 2018. They believe in reproductive health for all and that humans have a right to access services. He says so far it seems VFHA are already achieving the goals they set out in 2018.

On average, VFHA sees 600 patients per year, however last year saw 6,445 patients. He says the increase last year was due to the outreach programs after Cyclone Harold. He also says COVID-19 did not change any situation on family planning.

Ssenyabulya says today people are more informed and have less fear than in the past. He says most women who come forward are facing hard economic situations and realize that it is easier to raise less children.

A lot of girls do not want to drop out of school or university from unplanned pregnancy and he says boys are also taking responsibility and coming forward to get free condoms as they too do not want to face hardships. He says boys are also accompanying their girlfriends to the clinic and showing moral support.

Ssenyabulya says the monthly pills are the most popular method with the ladies followed by the Depo-Provera injections given every three months.

He says the jadelle double rods which are inserted into the women’s arms are also a common method which prevents them from having babies for five years. He says the implanon single rods are more preferred, however they are out of stock.

Ssenyabulya says many women feel tired of giving birth so there has been a rise in many of them coming forward to get tubal ligations.

Though there has been an increase in women stepping forward. There has been a lot of opposition especially from religious fanatics who say family planning is an abomination and that women must give birth to a lot of kids as God says humans must be fruitful and multiply, which is stated in Genesis chapter 1 verse 28.

Although Ssenyabulya agrees with the Bible, he also says God also created humans with a brain so they can understand and think well according to situations faced.

He says husbands should be more considerate towards their wives because they carry the baby for 9 months and then do all house work while looking after the other children as well.

Ssenyabulya says when women bear too many babies, their lifespan is shortened. He says during their outreach programs, a lot of men are beginning to understand but some are still very conservative and want to have more children even though their wives don’t want more babies.

Ssenyabulya says during the Mount Lombenben volcano disaster on Ambae, he noticed a lot of women came forward to express the difficulties they were facing and sought advice and a lot even took up contraception as many said their husbands didn’t seem to realize the hard situation they were in and the consequences of having more children.

On the issue of male contraceptive pills or injections, Ssenyabulya says there are none on the market at the moment.

He says the only male method available is vasectomy.

Ssenyabulya says they have not had any family planning outreach to the women’s prison, though they are planning to do one this year. VFHA have only done an AIDS awareness to the women in prison.

SOURCE: Vanuatu Daily Post