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Activating women’s family planning methods interest

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LISTEN—Stephano (right) shares information with Flyton

Improving access to family planning services in Africa has the potential to help women and couples achieve their desired family size, reduce cases of high-risk pregnancies and improve child health and growth status, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is estimated that by 2030, the population of Africa will rise to 1.3 billion.

However, despite knowledge on contraceptives, WHO indicates that there is an obvious knowledge-practice gap. It further cites barriers at personal, religious and community levels, saying they hinder contraceptive use.

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However, things seem to be changing, as an increased number of women seem to be believing that contraceptives offer countless benefits to the mother, child and community.

That is why 36-six-year-old Snaleti Flyton of Felemu Village in Neno District can now afford a smile after successfully receiving a loop, a long-term family planning method she used to be afraid of.

This is one of the most popular contraceptive methods, especially for long-term reversible contraception, as it can be easily fitted and removed.

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Flyton said, for the past years, she has been using short-term family planning methods to meet child spacing objectives.

According to Flyton, myths perpetuated by some people have been one of the major factors discouraging her and other women from accessing family planning services.

“I was one of the people that had been failing to access family planning methods after being fed with those lies. Some people say one may end up becoming barren if she uses long-term family planning methods, which is not correct. Other people believe that the loop causes problems that may lead to death, and that is what prompts some women to shun such methods,” she observed.

Flyton, who we came across at a mobile clinic in Felemu Village, said, previously, she could struggle to access family planning methods because of the long distance to a health facility.

That has since changed, thanks to the availability of mobile clinic services.

She said, due to the availability of mobile clinic services, it has become easy for her to take good care of her husband and children.

“I have been hearing some women claim that a loop induces bodily pain, something I have since learned to be untrue,” Flyton pointed out.

She said, in the past, she could abandon household chores to travel to a health centre located at a distance to access family planning services.

The exercise was not only tiresome, but time-consuming, too.

Francina Chibisa, 42, said she made a decision to use a long-term family planning method because she was aware that there are benefits that would manifest in the family.

“When a couple is practising child spacing, family members become healthy,” she emphasised.

In addition, the husband and wife find enough time to raise their children, who are given proper care.

The Government of Malawi accords the promotion and practice of family planning high priority, which is not surprising because it is one of the ways of improving citizens’ quality of life.

Haindi Sitima, who is a health surveillance assistant (HSA) in Felemu Village, said mobile clinic services provided courtesy of Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam) have given villagers who were failing to access services a lifeline.

Sitima cites those who could not access family planning methods due to long distance to healthcare service centres among those that have benefitted from mobile clinics.

He said, in the past, people from Felemu Village were finding it hard to access services at Chifunga Health Centre because of the distance factor.

The distance between the village and health centre is 24 kilometers.

Sitima said the Fpam project has positively impacted on people, as evidenced by the increased number of women who are flocking to the mobile clinic for family planning services.

He, however, bemoans pockets of resistance among some women.

“There are many women that still don’t understand the importance of using long-term family planning methods,” the HSA laments.

But, through the project, “We were able to reach out to many households using a public address system, thereby giving women and youths the much needed information”, according to Sitima.

Things are panning out well, except that the project phased out in December last year.

This is a cause for worry to Sitima, who said she wished Fpam could continue with the project so that those with reservations can be reached out to.

Senior Chief Mlauli commended Fpam for the initiative, saying the provision of services through mobile clinics has helped community members embrace health-seeking behavior.

“Mobile clinics have become a game-changer in our area.

“For this reason, I appeal to those that are financing the project to continue providing mobile clinic services. That way, many people will access services and improve their quality of life,” the traditional leader said.

N’zatonse Phase IV was a continuation of the N’zatonse Project where it was building on the deliverables of phase I, II and III.

N’zatonse IV aims at improving access and use of sexual reproductive health services in rural areas while ensuring that the behaviour of the target population is better adapted to the needs of individuals as well as the nation.

Fpam Team Lead, Joyce Stephano, confirmed that the project, which is being implemented in Neno and Ntcheu districts, came to an end in December.

While this marks a low point, she is overjoyed that, during the project implementation unit, women and adolescents who used to be marginalised accessed services at last.

Maybe good things do not last.

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