Increased use of family planning in Uganda would lead to large improvements in the health of the mothers and the children, the status of women, and economic development. For these reasons, we should ensure family planning services are available to all who need them. In the International conference on Family planning that was held in Kampala in November of 2009, Uganda like other countries committed to this cause.It is now almost 3 years since the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) results were released. However one big question lingers in my mind. Are the research results being used for programming purposes?
Uganda is one of the few countries in the “modern” world where on average a woman still gives birth to about 7 children in her child bearing years (from the time she is 15 to 49 years). Need to mention that this is an average- meaning there are those who bear less but more importantly those bearing more than even 8 children. For decades now, we have failed to bring down the rates, we have failed to increase uptake of modern contraception. Only about 18 percent of married women are using a modern method of family planning. Noteworthy is that there are 41 percent of married women who prefer to avoid pregnancy but are not using any method of family planning. Their demand for either spacing or limiting births is clearly unmet. These present are a problem but more positively an opportunity for increasing the contraceptive uptake in this country.
Ugandan women generally prefer to use injectables (e.g Depo provera) as a method to space and limit child births. Half of the women (aged 15 to 49 years) who intend to use a family planning method in the future say they prefer injectables while already 10 percent of married women are actually using injectables to plan their families, making this by far the most widely acceptable method of contraception. Discontinuation rates are also lowest for injectables compared to other methods of FP. It is thus a method that is more sustainable for users than the rest whose discontinuation rates in the first year of use are much higher.
Much as there are efforts to promote contraceptive use, we need to use the evidence from such research surveys and tailor methods to specific categories of people. A supply of family planning commodities is not enough if many women (couples) are not aware where exactly to locate these commodities. We need to find communication avenues that reach the grass root women. From evidence in the UDHS, more than two thirds of women had not heard or seen a Family planning message on radio, newspaper, TV or video in a year. Do we need to also go on and use
The other opportunity for Uganda is that the women who have not heard births actually want to have only 4 children in their lifetime. The question however is: will they have only four? Probably not, so long as the gap between demand and actual use of contraception is not bridged. But opportunities exist. We don’t need to squander them. We can actually together bring down the fertility rate and have healthier manageable families. And a lot can be done based on evidence from research findings