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World Contraception Day ensures contraceptive choices for young people

World Contraception Day (WCD) has a mission to spread the word and raise awareness about contraception and safe sex. Its aim to help each new generation of adults make informed decisions until every pregnancy in the world is a planned one.

WCD is an annual event taking place on September 26 each year. Countries and regions around the world organise events to mark the day and to demonstrate their commitment to raising awareness of contraception and improving education regarding reproductive and sexual health.

In developing countries, women continue to die because they lack access to contraception. Each pregnancy multiplies a woman's chance of dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. Maternal mortality rates are particularly high for young and poor women, those who have least access to contraceptive services.

WCD will be using an umbrella theme for this and future years: ‘Its your life; its your future; know your options'. This theme has been chosen as it is forward-looking, positive and empowering.

In Laos, young people make up 60 percent of the population. With their dynamism, imagination and creativity, young people can transform the social and economic fortune of the country.

With the right skills and opportunities, young girls and boys can invest in themselves, support their families, communities and build a healthy nation. However, quite often early teenage pregnancy jeopardises the rights, health, education and potential of far too many adolescents, robbing them of a bright future.

The recent Lao Social Indicator Survey shows that in Laos for every 1,000 adolescent girls (aged 15-19) there are at least 94 births annually, in some provinces as high as 110. This means many girls will have to stop being youthful, going to school, playing sports, dancing and enjoying time with friends to become mothers.

We all know the benefits of family planning and contraception: it helps prevent unintended pregnancies, which could have an adverse effect on the ability of any individual to enjoy a range of other rights.

A girl who becomes pregnant too early has not yet physically developed to carry a pregnancy to normal term, thus denying that baby the right to adequate development and a full healthy life.

She and often her partner or husband, are in many cases, forced to drop out of school and are thus deprived of their right to an education, and a right to becoming economically independent in the long run---leaving them on a path to poverty.

An unintended and/or unplanned pregnancy can endanger a woman's health, undermine her opportunities to earn a living, and trap her and her entire family in a cycle of poverty and exclusion.

According to the UN Population Fund, the evidence is now overwhelming that providing individuals with family planning services not only dramatically reduces infant and maternal deaths, but also improves the health of mothers and children.

Complications around pregnancy remain the greatest killer of girls in the developing world. It is important to give young women, men and families a right and chance to plan how to space their families—to achieve their dreams and goals in life.

But contraception not only defends against unintended pregnancies. Some methods, like the male and female condoms, are the most simple, cost-effective and realistic way to prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

The benefits of family planning are not only health-related. This is also a matter of economic and social development. Studies have shown that investing in family planning and contraception reduces poverty, increases participation in both education and the workforce and gives women a greater say in their households and communities.

The result is higher incomes for families and improved prosperity for countries. Failure to enable boys and girls to make free and informed decisions about their own reproduction has implications for social and economic development in any nation. Family planning is a cost-effective strategy that produces evident economic gains.

But the right to family planning cannot be realised without action from all of us. Led by the government, civil society and stakeholders, including the private sector, everyone must work together to ensure that voluntary family planning reaches everyone who wants access to it.

As we do this, let us keep in mind that boys and men are a key part of the solution and should be equally targeted in our efforts to increase the use of family planning. In many cases, gender inequality contributes to the continued problem of unwanted pregnancies and unmet contraception needs.

The majority of family planning programmes target only women; however, girls and women's lack of decision making power, even with regard to their own health, hinders their ability to practise family planning.

Experience shows that, given the right role models and enabling environments, men are willing to be more fully and positively engaged in reproductive health matters.

Today, let us commit to ensure that every adult, and young person everywhere, regardless of sex, social or marital status, income, ethnicity, religion or place of residence is empowered to exercise choice --- and decide freely and responsibly about his or her reproductive health choices.

Today, let us all commit to ensure that in Laos every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.

 

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 23, 2017)


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