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West Nile grappling with high unmet family planning needs

Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is still a huge gap in unmet family planning needs among married women in the West Nile region, a new survey about the uptake of family planning services in the region has revealed. Unmet family planning needs point to the gap between women’s reproductive intentions and their contraceptive behavior.

Conducted by Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) between September and November 2021, the survey shows that 24 percent of every 100 women aged between 15 and 49 would like to limit or delay getting pregnant but they do not have access to consistent use of modern contraceptive methods.

While disseminating the findings in Arua City on Monday, Professor Frederick Makumbi, the lead investigator, said that the unmet need is also highest among the women with no education and primary education compared to those with more than secondary education. He further said that women living in rural areas have a higher unmet need compared to urban dwellers.

According to Makumbi, the high unmet family planning need is a result of various socio-cultural, religious and economic factors, which often hinder most women from making informed decisions.

Dr Betty Kyadondo, Director of Family Health at the National Population Council, says that the high unmet family planning needs have implications for women and their families, such as unwanted pregnancies and the associated health risks for mothers and children.

Pakwach LC V Chairperson, Robert Omito called for the involvement of all stakeholders such as religious and cultural leaders to increase family planning uptake in the sub-region. He further noted that religious and traditional leaders need to be equipped with skills for communicating to teenagers and women about the use of family planning to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

In 2017, the Government of Uganda revised its targets to reduce the unmet family planning needs to 10 per cent by 2020, which is far from being achieved. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report of March 2021, the unmet family planning needs account for 20% of maternal deaths in Uganda.

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