Parliamentarians across Africa have asked citizens in the different countries to adopt family planning methods to produce fewer children and avoid the dangers of population explosion.
Addressing fellow parliamentarians during the Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH) meeting in Kampala on Tuesday, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Ugandan minister of state for housing and urban development, said this is meant to bring about quality population which comes in handy when the population growth is line with the economic growth rate.
“There has been a debate of population and the concern is not about controlling the growth but ensuring the quality of the population. Countries which are developed have had robust population policies. The population growth must be sustainable, the economic growth rate should be three times the population growth rate,” he said.
Dr Baryomunsi added that parliamentarians should be in position to educate couples and families to plan to have the number of children in line with their economic capacity through the use of family planning methods, but not just producing children to exhaust the biological capacity.
“There is progress in transformation of fertility rate but it is still slow. We need to mobilise parliamentarian for it is very critical if we are going to have an accelerated development within the continent,” Dr Baryomuns added.
Dr Bonifance Ushie, a research scientist from Population Dynamics and Reproductive Health said family planning should be an intervention to reduce child mortality, teenage pregnancies and also need to engage mothers to overcome fears about family planning.
“The issue of contraceptives is not being talked about especially among adolescents thinking sexual education is going to encourage them, but it’s not the case. We forget that many adolescents are already engaged in having sex and teaching them prevents them from many risks,” Dr Ushie said.
He further added that though there is a contradiction between religions and governments about family planning, parliamentarians across Africa need to find a way of harmonizing such issues.
According to the World Health Organisation recent statistics, an estimated 214 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any form of contraception. Globally, contraceptive use has increased in many parts of the world but remained low in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Today, Africa has the world's highest fertility rates. On average, women in Sub-Saharan Africa have about five children over their reproductive lifetime, compared to a global average of 2.5 children.
According to the demographic and health survey, fertility rate in Uganda stands at 5.4 children per woman though according to some of the parliamentarians there is need to invest more in family planning and related services in order to accelerate in the reduction of this fertility.
Dr Baryomunsi however cautions that information concerning family planning should be provided to both women and men to help them plan as a family.