By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The majority of women in PNG are still not able to access adequate contraceptive services.
According to Marie Stopes PNG’s 2014 Annual report this is because of an “acute shortage of skilled providers.”
The family planning service provider was out today in Port Moresby, to commemorate World Contraception Day and raise more awareness on the importance of family planning on the nation’s development.
Maries Stopes PNG has 11 centres throughout the country. They partner with provincial health teams to provide sexual reproductive and family planning services.
Last year over 47,000 people were able to access family planning through their services; half of these people used family planning for the first time.
Maarten Van de Reep the country director says, “ Overall we find the public very supportive. A lot of people want to know about family planning and want to know what they can do to take control of their own fertility and how many children they have.”
There are many challenges to accessing family planning services in PNG. Geography, finance, lack of information which Van De Reep says, “Too many girls in PNG are unaware of their own reproductive systems and become pregnant,” which he says is also true for older women who are not aware of the services available to help them avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Another challenge is misconceptions . Lorreta Bele recently moved to the Maries Stopes head office in Port Moresby after a year in Arawa, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville says, “a general misconception is that we are trying to stop the population, in fact we are not trying to stop it, you can have as many children as you want, as long as you plan it and space it properly.”
In the crowd this morning Lennon Kaiok, a newly married man who has a baby says, “First time lo marit na mipla no save lo family planning em wanem samting, so mi interest lo kam na lainim about my family, lo how lo protectim meri blo mi na pikinini blo mi.” (I am newly married and do not know what family planning is so I am interested to learn about how I can protect my wife and my child)
Gabriel a grandfather himself, is supportive of this awareness saying more young people should have this information and access family planning services, “Planti taim ol sa karim pikinini ol yanpla blo mipla ol no sa tingim family planning. Ol pikinini ol lainim na husat bai lukautim?” (Most of our young people are having babies without any thought to family planning. They are having too many children and who will look after those children?)
Apart from economic reasons, effective family planning is seen as the most cost effective and efficient way of preventing pregnancy related deaths in PNG. Currently, statistics show 4 women die every day in PNG from pregnancy related complications.