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Health officials target reduction in unwanted pregnancies

Health officials from the nation’s south met in Borikhamxay province recently to discuss methods of providing more information about family planning to Lao youth to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Lack of access to healthcare and information has a direct impact not only on women’s health but also on their education, employment, and economic prospects.

Although the situation has been improving, some vulnerable groups such as rural women in remote communities and adolescent girls still lack the reproductive rights that would allow them to gain control of their lives, a health official said.
Speaking at the Advocacy Meeting on Family Planning, Director General  of Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion, Ministry of Health, Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom said the national family planning programme aims to promote a reproductive health information service for young people, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health.
Amongst the first events convened post lockdown, the workshops have highlighted the government’s commitment to sexual reproductive health and rights and to family planning as a key health programme directly contributing to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality, and poverty reduction.
“The government aims to ensure that family planning is for everyone, not only for couples but for all people regardless of their sex, social or economic status,” he said.
He stressed that the government would continue to highlight the importance of family planning in the 9th national social and economic development plan (NSEDP).
To fulfil the renewed commitments of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 25, relevant sectors at all levels must ensure family planning information and services reach the most vulnerable.
He noted that in Laos, about 15 percent of married women would like to plan childbearing but are not able to use contraception. Unmet need is highest amongst young women, women with no education, and the poorest.
With 75 percent of girls aged 15-19 having no access to family planning, the adolescent birth rate in Laos remains the highest in Asean, with 1 in 10 girls aged 15-19 already beginning childbearing.
UNFPA Representative to the Lao PDR, Ms Mariam A. Khan, stressed that universal access to family planning leads to the reduction of school dropouts, breaking the cycle of poverty, tackles malnourishment, and avoids teenage pregnancy.
She said an additional 40,000-60,000 births could be expected in Laos and the 284 maternal deaths per year, might increase to 546 or 684 deaths in the worst-case scenario.
Meeting participants discussed challenges based on the mid-term review and stock out reports to determine remedial actions and multi-sectoral cooperation at the local levels.
Recognising the acute needs to reduce the adolescent birth rate, participants agreed to advocate preventing school dropouts and engaging men and boys in the family planning conversation.


By Phetphoxay  Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update July 7, 2020)

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