MALE INVOLVEMENT IN FAMILY PLANNING: THE ULTIMATE OPTION.
As the deadly virus COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, new information and materials become available on family planning. Family planning programs usually provides information and services to women and girls, though they are not the only primary decision-makers about their fertility.
Providing available comprehensive information on family planning to men makes them actively engage in their fertility decisions and consequently options to choose from the contraception mix. Notwithstanding this huge benefits, men are usually excluded from these services and programmes resulting in high unmet need.
Health experts, demographers and planners have over the years advocated on the inclusion of men as key measure to addressing this gap.
According to UN (2014), unmet need is a measure of the percentage of women of reproductive age, either married or in a union, who wants to stop or delay childbearing but are not using any method contraceptive.
From the cultural point of view, male dominance in fertility decisions are common. For instance when to start giving birth and how many children to have. This hampers women’s access to family planning information and services and hinders their inability to negotiate on matters of sexuality.
Our world is faced with numerous reproductive health challenges including high unmet need for contraception, high rates of unplanned pregnancies, teenage pregnancies and abortions. Involving males in fertility decisions has the potency to reduce these challenges.
Male involvement will act as a catalyst for sustained economic development for a country such as Ghana. Any attempt aimed at improving our economic fortunes and health of the populace will be tough without addressing high unmet need.
In Ghana, the use of family planning methods still remains low, among the identifiable reasons are misinformation, inadequate access to services, fear of side effects, misconceptions, poor attitude of providers, opposition from religiosity and men. Little or no support for women’s use of contraceptives from men has been severally reported as key impeding factor towards its utilisation. To a large extent, male involvement in family planning goes beyond supporting their partners to use services but also directed at increasing acceptability and commodity utilisation.
It is for this reason and many more that sensitization programmes provided by government, stakeholders and all partners in the population fraternity including non-governmental agencies targets male involvement in Family Planning to stimulate demand.