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Dhaka Tribune

Sticking to the plan

Addressing the challenges posed by the shortage of family planning commodities in Bangladesh

Update : 08 Apr 2024, 10:07 AM

Family planning plays a pivotal role in shaping both individual well-being and community health. Yet, recent data from Bangladesh reveal a concerning pattern of diminishing supplies of family planning commodities, prompting concerns about its potential impact on the population’s health and future.

Decline in essential FP commodities

According to the Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), contraceptive use has seen a gradual decline over the past three years, dropping from 65.6% in 2021 to 62.1% in 2023. Moreover, vital commodities such as condoms are rapidly depleting, with the stock of birth control pills projected to last for only another five months. This shortage of family planning commodities may stem from inadequate forecasting practices, with far-reaching implications, particularly for young people.

Access to contraceptives is essential for empowering young individuals to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and future. However, the scarcity of supplies poses heightened risks of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and restricted control over reproductive choices among young people. Addressing this shortage is paramount to safeguarding the health and well-being of individuals, especially the youth and adolescents, and ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive health care services for all.

Commitment to global vision

The challenges faced by Bangladesh in this regard are not isolated, as similar issues persist across various regions worldwide. The global community has acknowledged the significance of family planning through initiatives such as FP2030, which strives to account for access to quality family planning services and commodities for millions of women and girls globally. However, even as a commitment maker, Bangladesh’s current situation underscores the pressing need for intensified efforts to fulfill FP2030 commitments and guarantee universal access to family planning services.

To address these challenges effectively, enhanced collaboration and exchange with organizations like UNFPA, which oversees supplies, and the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition’s practices, including the Global FP Visibility and Analytics Network (VAN), are crucial. By leveraging the expertise and resources of these international partners, the Directorate General of Family Planning, which is also a RHSC coalition member, can improve its family planning commodity management, optimize supply chains, and enhance access to essential reproductive health supplies. This collaborative approach will not only benefit Bangladesh but also contribute to advancing global efforts to promote reproductive health and rights for all.

Unchecked population growth can strain essential resources

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a milestone in advancing global reproductive health and rights. Ensuring access to universal family planning and reproductive health services is a fundamental component of the ICPD’s agenda. However, the current situation underscores the urgency of redoubling efforts to achieve these objectives, particularly in the face of dwindling commodity supplies.

Implications for all

The shortage of family planning commodities in Bangladesh should concern everyone due to its potential ramifications on public health, gender equality, and socio-economic development. Access to family planning services is a fundamental human right, and its absence can lead to adverse outcomes such as increased maternal and child mortality rates, higher healthcare costs, and reduced opportunities for women’s empowerment and economic advancement. Furthermore, unchecked population growth can strain essential resources, exacerbate environmental degradation, and hinder sustainable development efforts.

Addressing the stock exhaustion of family planning commodities in Bangladesh requires concerted efforts from government agencies, healthcare providers, civil society organizations, and the international community. Immediate action is needed to ensure the uninterrupted supply of contraceptives and other essential commodities, strengthen forecasting, and accountability mechanisms, and prioritize investments in family planning programs. By prioritizing family planning, Bangladesh can safeguard the health and well-being of its population and contribute to achieving the goals outlined in FP2030. 
It is imperative that stakeholders come together to address this pressing issue and ensure that every individual has the right to access comprehensive family planning services, regardless of their socio-economic status or geographic location.

SM Shaikat is the Executive Director of SERAC-Bangladesh.

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