Family planning: Use the rod, spare the child with new contraceptive

Published: April 3, 2011
The slim rod is inserted under the woman’s skin.

The slim rod is inserted under the woman’s skin.


About a quarter of women in Pakistan want to have some method of birth control but they either don’t have access to contraceptives or proper information about them.

This figure, 25 per cent, is from the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey but as the statistic dates back to 2006-2007, it can only be treated as an indicator of the situation on the ground. Of the total unmet need, 11 per cent is of women (or couples) who want to “space out” or give a sufficient gap, 24 months recommended, between children. The other 14 per cent is for those who want to “limit” their family.

This unmet need opens up a challenge for health providers. “The most common contraceptives in the country are either permanent or are low in their effectiveness,” explained Dr Mohsina Bilgrami, who is the MD of Marie Stopes Society (MSS). She was speaking at a seminar on reproductive health on Saturday. Bilgrami quoted figures from the survey, saying eight per cent of women used female sterilisation as a method while another eight per cent preferred the ‘rhythm and withdrawal’ technique as contraception. Condoms were used by seven per cent of couples and intrauterine devices (such as the ‘coil’) were limited to just 2.3 per cent. Only 0.1 per cent of women used the implants.

Given the scope, this seminar was organised to promote another contraceptive method to be launched in Pakistan under the Marie Stopes Society banner. Femplant promises “long-term benefits with minimum side-effects.”

Femplant, once inserted into the woman’s arm, is a reversible method of contraception that frees the couple from worrying about conceiving for about four years. There is, nonetheless, a one in 100 chance of conception. Once it is inserted, the women do not need a routine clinical follow-up.

The government does, however, have some concerns. “If the method is adopted by a government programme, we will not be able to ensure proper sanitation and skilled insertion of the [Femplant] rods in rural areas,” pointed out Dr Najma Sultana of the Population Welfare department in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. More healthcare providers, male and female, would need to be properly trained so that they ensure counselling on side-effects, benefits, planning.

On family planning at large, the chief guest Shahnaz Wazir Ali of the Pakistan Peoples Party, who is also the co-chair of the Pakistan education task force, shared her thoughts. “Education, especially for girls, is the best method of contraception,” she said. If the woman of the house is educated and is aware of her options then it will manifest through the household, she added. On the barriers to family planning, Wazir Ali said that she was a strong proponent of functional integration with a serious focus on coordination between departments (vertically and horizontally). For her distance (in rural areas) to healthcare units is a “central challenge”. She suggested officials to start looking at health, education, population and nutrition under one umbrella and then address their problems.

The head of training at Greenstar Social marketing, Dr Aleya Ali, projected a dim future with population figures touching 300 million in 40 years if something was not done quickly.

Dr Yasmeen Sabeeh Qazi, a senior country adviser for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, said that contraceptive use increased with age and parity. She stressed the need to focus on the newly married couple and soon-to-be married couples to get them on to family planning right from the start.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 03rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • noman yasir
    Apr 3, 2011 - 12:39PM

    The population explosion in our country has put an unsustainable strain on our resources.yet the maulvis continue to brainwash & misguide people into having huge numbers of children which they can’t raise properly & which become a further burden on the society.
    Our mullahs beat into the heads of men that they are the “owners” of their wives,that it is the men who have the power to make the decision of how many children the wife can have or not have.

    Our women unfortunately by marrying early & giving up their education and/or jobs leave themselves at the mercy of their husbands who have total financial power over them.The women don’t raise their voices to say they don’t want any more children,they don’t leave husbands who are abusive & treat them like trash.

    our women continue to stick to their husbands like leeches no matter how much the husband degrades,humiliates & taunts the wife.Recommend

  • anjum pervez
    Apr 3, 2011 - 1:15PM

    @noman yasir:

    Not only one this issue but on the whole the religious savages in our country have brought it to the brink of complete destruction.They have tried to impose religion on every aspect of life,they have disfigured the legal system by adding barbaric,medieval laws which are not worthy of being called laws.

    The men in our society have always used religion to subjugate women & to keep them under their feet.The women aren’t allowed to have careers,not allowed to live as free human beings,are kept hidden beneath a suffocating tent which the women have to walk around in so that no one else can get a glance at the personal property of the men.

    The only way to save our land is for the women to start working,having lifelong careers & stop making their aim in life the landing of some rich guy off whose income they can continue to live off easily for the rest of their lives. Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 3, 2011 - 2:21PM

    It should be pointed out here that use of hormonal contraception increases the risk of breast cancer significantly. Barrier contraception has no such issues.Recommend

  • adeel jamal
    Apr 3, 2011 - 4:46PM

    @noman yasir:

    Religion has been used for centuries to keep women deprived of their basic human rights.
    Whenever a man has to subdue a woman,make her do the sacrifice of what she desires,he trots out religious sayings or quotations to silence the woman.

    it is time that our women stopped giving into the religious blackmail of men & started demanding & fighting for their rights regardless of what any mullah says.Recommend

  • logic, India
    Apr 3, 2011 - 7:20PM

    Religions are outdated and out-of-context with the realities of today’s world. There is no point in making a child if you can’t provide him/her a promising future.Recommend

  • Apr 3, 2011 - 11:31PM

    You guys seem WEIRD to me, no freaking joke! I don’t see religion cropping up in this article, but there is ALWAYS a few of you out there blaming the mullahs; dude, you are no better than them if you think that speaking out and bashing them is going to help you. The mullahs and the liberals are equally bad then! TOLERANCE my friends, on BOTH sides. If you’re so worried, then i suggest you educate people around you- but you’re never going to achieve ANYTHING if you talk with Scorn. The Mullahs have managed to make a population of people want to run from their religion, and the ‘liberals’ have managed to make an issue outta the mullahs at EVERY single point and turn; QUIT it man, its bloody annoying.
    And before you turn around and come up with a lame retort (which seems quite common in this country) I have a right to express my opinion, and you have NO right to label me a mullah or a liberal or whatever. MY OPINION.

    AND I agree with Logic India: Don’t bring a kid into this world if you can’t provide for it- Allah de ga, is a lovely way of putting it but it doesn’t work that way. Allah gives to those who put their back into it. And the rich kids need to quit handing their children to maids or servants, every one needs their PARENTS. Recommend

  • Naveed
    Apr 4, 2011 - 10:56AM

    @Logic, India

    Very funny.

    Mr. Logic, why don’t you bring a new religion that suits today’s world.
    Religions are just the basic laws provided by the Creator of Human beings to govern life. We can develop other laws that benifits Mankind under the embrella of religious laws. But totally rejecting the religion is not prudent.Recommend

  • Arif Ullah
    Apr 4, 2011 - 11:28AM

    Economic says…resources are limited & Demands are Unlimited… but in real term it is reciprocal,, we havnt seen that with increasing population the resources are decreasing….man u can see it yourself… before with low population all the resources were also upto the extent of Population but now with increasing population the resources are also increasing….the resources of Allah will never end.. just it is the matter of our Intention..our deeds…our belief on Allah… if there is any shortage of resources it is man made shortage… Recommend

  • chopard
    Apr 5, 2011 - 12:03AM

    You all are great but think unthinkably. just read the quran and sunnah you all will get the real picture. our doctors 99% cant read the holy quran and 99.99% cant translate the holy quran. and 99.999% cant understand six holy books of ahadiths. iqbal says no one can become a true momin unless he understand the holy quran and study the life of the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH). patients seek guidance from experts of health i.e. doctors but find them half blind. o great doctors try to be equipped with world knowledge and islamic vision. if you are equipped with these all people of pakistan will follow you not mullas b/c you are doctors and mullas as well. thanks Recommend

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