Ethiopia is one of the developing nations with more than 115 million inhabitants. It is the least urbanized country in which only 20 percent of the population is residing in the urban centers while the rest is rural community engaging in the primary economic activities.
According to experts, 70 percent of the population is below the age of 30; which indicates a greater level of dependency ratio. Hence, strengthening the use of family planning methods properly is critical to harness demographic dividend in addition to decreasing the rate of dependency. Dr Feiruz Awkash is a Medical Director at the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC).
As to him, implementing family planning methods has several benefits. Among others, managing reproductive and fertility rate through the implementation of contraceptive mechanism can be mentioned. If properly taken, contraceptive measure can be effective and currently, 98 percent of women who use the method have been successful at preventing pregnancy.
In Ethiopia, though it varies from regions to regions, the prevalence of utilizing contraceptive is 42 percent. Particularly in the peripheral regions of the country the prevalence rate is very low. For example, the rate in the Somali Region is estimated to be 1 to 2 percent which is the lowest. While talking about the experience he have had in Somali region during his field visit, Dr. Feiruze remembers that the Region’s Bureau of family planning told him that he is the father of 13 children. Contrary to this, the prevalence of contraceptive utilization in the capital is 80 percent which clearly shows the massive variation between regions.
As to him, the utilization of contraceptive among women is directly related with education. Females who have exposure to education since they start bodily sexual contact with the opposite sex, they better practice contraceptive. Unfortunately, currently the utilization of contraceptive in the country has been politicized which is amazing. When family planners propose the administration of the medicine usage for protecting women from unwanted pregnancy, some community leaders in the regions reject and accused the prescription as if intended to depopulate the community.
As the result, the effort to attaining the targeted achievement in family planning faced challenges. Hence, bringing attitudinal change in this regard needs unrestrained effort, he opined.
The culture of using contraceptive in the urban areas is expanding and unmarried women used Intra-Uterine device /IUD/ which is a piece of T shaped plastic about the size of the quarter that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy but female youth only focuses on using post peal only to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy; and sadly they ignored their vulnerability to HIV AIDS and it is a mystery why they develop such a sense of security. They would rather better not practice sexual intercourse with no using condom before marriage. The family planning and its implementation also contribute for the wellbeing of family health as protecting mothers’ health is essential.
In order to reduce maternal death; mothers should give birth in hospital and health centers. During their pregnancy they should get pre delivery advice from medical professionals and maintain follow up in the post delivery time to prevent pregnancy and childbirth-related complications and deaths. It is obvious that a woman can give birth while she is between the ages of 18 to 40.
As to Feiruze, 40 years ago the average fertility rate in our country was 6.9 percent but currently, it has reduced to four percent. Even though the utilization of contraceptive is expanding, it does not bring a substantial impact in reducing fertility rate which in turn unable to bring demographic dividend.
Therefore, formulating and implementing new policy is essential. In the rural part of the country early marriage is continued unabatedly which again increases fertility rate. A woman, who began to give birth at the age of 15, will continue to give birth up to the age of 40 and on average totally she has a capacity to give birth up to 20 children which creates high dependency rate. But it is possible to reduce the rate if the woman begins giving birth at the age of 25.
In the rural parts of the country, child is still regarded as an asset; and that is why the high fertility rate is prevailed. Demographic dividend can be attained when the number of the productive age group is increased; and when the number of dependent age groups that are above 65 and below 18 is decreased. In this regard, there are some developing countries which are effective in implementing family planning and showing progress in reducing dependent age groups. Kenya can be the case in point. Family planning and using contraceptive prevalence rate rose to 5o percent. The fertility rate is reduced to 3.2 percent as the result, bringing population pyramid change is realized and population growth has been slower and slower. North African countries achieved tremendous result in reducing population growth and enhancing the number of productive age group.
As to Feiruz, if it is properly managed, population can be an asset and serves as economic growth engine. It meets labor demand, can be productive and consumer by creating market. The other way round, if it is unqualified and uneducated, it might be a burden on society.
Therefore, to reduce dependency ratio and fertility rate, enhancing the utilization of contraceptive and implementing family planning is essential. In this regard, the media can play its part in inculcating the value of contraceptive to women and family members.
BY ABEBE WOLDEGIORGIS
The 13 February 2022