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Benefits of family planning for the community and nation

Family planning is: a responsible decision made by an individual or couple to have a small and manageable family size. Couples also plan when to have the first child and when to have the last child. It is recommended that space between each pregnancy by at least three years.

Why should you plan your family? There are several reasons: Father needs to plan for a better life for his family. Money to provide for his family needs. Good health in order to work for his family and the nation. Peace of mind at home and at work. Time to spend with his wife and children giving them love and attention.

Time for leisure and recreational activities with family and friends. Time to participate in community activities and adult education classes, which we used to have during the old good days (Mwalimu Nyerere’s days) A responsible father needs to make a joint decision with his wife to have a small and manageable family size in order to achieve a better life for his family and community.

Mother needs time to rest in between pregnancies. To keep in good health. Time for love and attention for her husband and children. Time to look for her home and take care of family. Time for leisure. To participate in community activities and self help or income generating activities.

To attend adult education classes if any. A mother is likely to stay in good health if she spaces pregnancies by three years or more and avoids getting pregnant before the age of 18. A mother must also avoid getting pregnant after the age of 35 and after the fourth child.

Children need good and well balanced food to grow and develop strong and healthy bodies, proper care, love and attention from both parents, shelter (a good comfortable and secure home to live in a safe, healthy environment, adequate clothing, good education- books, school fees and uniforms. Parents need enough time and money to provide for children’s needs. Children born when parents have planned for them have a good foundation in life.

These are advantages of family planning for the community and nation too. If people have a small, manageable family sizes they are likely to have:- Better health for all. Enough land to plough, enough grazing land, more jobs, enough schools and health facilities, recreational facilities, adequate water supply, more houses and adequate space, better sanitation and conservation of natural resources, such as trees, soil, animals and water, adequate transport and marketing facilities. Plan now for a better life.

There are many methods of family planning available for both men and women. When you decide to plan for a better life for you and your family, visit your nearest dispensary, health centre,  hospital/clinic/doctor. To plan is to choose. (Kupanga ni kuchagua) Tanzania is a high fertility, rapid population growth country with a young age structure.

Contraceptive use remains low, although the unmet needs for family planning are high. Unmet need refers to the percentage of married women of reproductive age who are able to bear children and who want to wait at least two years before next birth or wants to stop childbearing altogether but who are not using any method of family planning.

In Tanzania, 22 per cent of currently married women want to space or limit their births but are not using contraception. This shows a large unmet need for family planning exists in Tanzania. Gender relationships are one of the determinants of large family size. The population will continue to grow rapidly despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

HIV/AIDS does not cause infertility. More importantly, the course for fertility will be a key determinant of the future size of the population. The fertility rate is a measure used to describe the average number of children per woman during her lifetime. At the time of independence (1961), the fertility rate was close to 6.8 children per woman. The first two Tanzania Demographic and Health Surveys (TDHSs) reported the fertility rate at 6.3 in 1991-1992 and 5.8 in 1996.

However, the 1999 Tanzania Reproductive and Child Health Survey (TRCHS) and the 2004-05 TDHS, respectively, indicated fertility rates of 5.6 and 5.7 children per woman. This basically means fertility rate has not changed over the past decade in Tanzania. It is an area where we need to look at seriously, family planning if used beneficially can reduce maternal mortality by twenty per cent.

We need to involve the men in planning and regulating the total fertility rate, it bears the brunt on the mother but the father/male spouse is the causative agent who shows reluctance to accept and practice modern family planning. Modern contraceptive use among married women of reproductive age in Tanzania is 20 per cent following surveys of 2004-2005. Even at 20 per cent, Tanzania has one of the lowest levels of contraceptive prevalence in Eastern and Southern Africa. Another six per cent of married women use a traditional method.

Email: amzigetz@yahoo.com

0713 410 531

Author: Dr ALI MZIGE

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