The family planning services is facing a myriad of obstacles in Bangladesh, preventing the sector from providing full coverage to the people of Bangladesh.
Some major hurdles in implementing the services are-- unwillingness of the male members of the family, side effects arising from using family planning methods, religious sentiments.
Concerned officials also believe that lack of dedicated legal guidelines and social stigma has made it difficult to fully implement the family planning services throughout Bangladesh.
The Health and Family Planning Service Week, that started on December 30, 2017, is being observed till today [January 4, 2018]. Officials have recommended that the event be used to publicize the services to the people from all corners of society.
Currently available family planning services for women in Bangladesh are-- oral pills, injections, implant (Hormone-based temporary long-term birth control method) and IUD (Intrauterine Contraceptive Device).
Also Read- Why are Bangladeshi men reluctant to use birth control?
For men, condoms and NSV (No Scalpel Vasectomy) are available for family planning.
Discussing the challenges of providing family planning services, Superintendent of Dhaka Family Planning Office, Md Nur Hossain said: “Lack of manpower and religious taboo are preventing people from seeking out family planning services.
“Side effects are also discouraging people. Injections could cause a woman to gain weight, and some of the recipients’ bodies reject IUDs. Many refuse to use contraceptives, and there are reports of men claiming to lose their libido after undergoing NSV.”
Terming the lack of manpower a serious issue, Nur said: “We do not have enough people to provide family planning services in most of the city corporations. The first batch of employees was recruited in 1976. At that time, there was one welfare assistant for every 650 couples.
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“However, currently in some areas, one family planning official is responsible for more than 20,000 couples. This is a major challenge for us. Some of the senior officials are set to retire in a few years, which will further increase the pressure on us.”
Meanwhile, speaking to the correspondent, Hazaribagh Health Centre’s Family Planning Coordinator Dr Mahmuda Akter said: “Most family planning methods are for women only, and we believe that it is of their best interest to use the long-term methods.
“Long-term IUD method for women has side effects, while NSV is a good family planning method for men. However, most people are unwilling to use them for family planning.”
She added: “Government is giving people who undergo implants and IUDs an allowance of Tk173, and those who are undergoing permanent methods are getting Tk2,300.
“Middlemen are conning people to undergo family planning methods for money. We have to raise more awareness regarding the issue.”
Dr Mahmuda pointed out that many couples believe that using family planning methods are a sin, while some keep having children until they get a male child.
Azimpur Health Centre Councillor Habiba Sultana said: “I recommend family planning methods to every woman who visit hospital to deliver their baby. However, educated women are still unaware about importance of family planning.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune