October 16, 2015

Child spacing is key to economic development

Written by Diana Tibesigwa, Advocacy Officer, German Foundation for World Population (DSW)

2015-10-16_5621148b3825a_JonathanTorgovnikGettyImages.jpg

This article originally appeared on New Vision – Uganda.

Every 17th October Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the safe motherhood day. This year’s theme in Uganda is “Child spacing, a key strategy to economic development and improvement of maternal health”.  

Safe motherhood through child spacing is motivated by the knowledge that family planning helps women achieve their human rights to health, education, autonomy, and personal decision making about the number and timing of their childbearing.

More broadly, family planning improves maternal and child health, facilitates educational advances, empowers women, reduces poverty, and is a foundational element to our economic development.

We all know Uganda still has a high maternal mortality rate an indicator of unmet need for family planning services. The infant mortality rate has been declining since 1995 from 97 to 54 deaths per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality remains a challenge 438 deaths per 100,000 live births as of 2012. Underlying causes have been identified as: unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, postpartum hemorrhage, and eclampsia among women, sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, umbilical cord infection, asphyxia among the new born and pneumonia, dehydration from diarrhea among children below 5 years.

Accelerated economic growth is needed to reduce inequality and poverty, and improve people’s lives across the country. The experience of many countries in South Asia suggests a path way to this accelerated economic growth. An economic window of opportunity opened in these counties because of the rapid decline in the fertility, which increased the proportion of working age people in relation to dependent children. These countries responded by improving health , education, attracting foreign investments, enacting policies and creating jobs which accelerated into economic growth.

The government of Uganda has taken some steps to promote child spacing through family planning: have advanced safe mother hood through human rights, policies, commitments , partnerships, improved service delivery: increased staffing from 59%  to 66% as of Financial year 2013/14, trained health workers, use of the Village health Team Strategy, have provided reproductive health services, supplies and commodities.

Despite all that, are still a number to challenges that need to be addressed in order to have child spacing as a strategy to economic development and improving safe motherhood. implementation and dissemination of policies is still weak,  Government RH/FP funding for reproductive health commodities and services is still low and there is hardly any resources devoted to supporting the demand side interventions, Reproductive health, including family planning is often viewed as a female issue, no male involvement , Limited access to reproductive health services by young people ,Inadequate behavior change and information education on child spacing in rural areas  and the need for more qualified health workers to be motivated and retained.

As we commemorate safe mother hood day let these issues be at the heart of government and its partners.

Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik / Getty Images