CONTRACEPTIVES prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce abortion rates, death and disability related to complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) said maternal deaths could be reduced by a quarter and child deaths by up to 20 per cent if women and adolescents had access to modern contraception in regions such as the Pacific.
Papua New Guinea has a high unmet need for family planning.
The demographic and health survey 2016/18 showed that only one in three married women were using modern contraceptives.
Low contraceptive use not only contributes to teenage pregnancy rates but high HIV prevalence, increased rates of child and infant mortality and lower female life expectancy.
High rates of fertility tend to substantially limit women’s participation in education and a productive workforce – with a direct impact on a country’s economy and social development.
“The solution to this is to avoid unplanned pregnancies in the first place,” the UNFP said.
“Young people should have access to sexual and reproductive health services.
“They should have access to accurate information to make decisions about their life and body.” The UNFP said PNG was at a critical stage of economic and social development.
It has one of the highest numbers of young people compared to the overall population.
This presents a window of opportunity to push forward the country’s development agenda if youths are given the information and tools to make positive choices for themselves, community and nation.
If one in two women use of a modern contraception by 2030, the results would be impressive, such as:
- HUNDREDS of thousands of mothers’ and children’s lives could be saved;
- FERTILITY rates would decline to 2.7 children, per woman (2016 rates: 4.2 children per woman);
- FEMALE life expectancy rates would improve to almost 70 years;
- GROSS domestic product per capita would increase to US$4,280 (about K15,000) per capita from US$2,450 (about K8,608) in 2016;
- POPULATION changes will reduce the number of dependents and increase the numbers of adults, allowing Papua New Guinea to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend; and,
- PNG will be able to achieve its target of satisfying 75 per cent of demand for family planning, with modern methods.