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Health News of Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Source: The Post Newspaper

The use of contraceptives promotes good health - Health study

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Contraceptive use promotes health, saves lives and cost; a study on “Costs and benefits of investing services in Cameroon”, conducted by the Institute of Demographic Research, IFORD, Cameroon and the Guttmacher Research Institute, USA, has revealed.

Prof. Gervais Bennguisse, study coordinator, presented the findings to the press in the presence of the Director of the Guttermacher Institute, Dr. Akinrinola Bankole on July 29 in Yaounde. The study posits that if women’s needs on contraceptives are met, there would be 373,000 fewer unwanted pregnancies each year, a decrease of 76 percent.

Besides, unplanned births, abortions and miscarriages would be reduced and 1300 fewer women would die.

This is against the backdrop that Cameroon has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, as an estimated 782 women die from pregnancy or delivery-related causes per 100,000 live births.

Consequently, 6,000 women die every year many who had not wished to be pregnant in the first place. Lack of access to quality family planning services expose women to unwanted pregnancies and risks of childbirth without adequate care.

Meeting women’s needs for modern contraception is seen to be central in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, MDG- improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and can combat HIV/AIDS.

But, the study indicates that the current contraceptive use in Cameroon is inadequate, with only 37 percent of the 2.3 million women of the reproductive age using modern contraception methods. Women in the northern region are more at risk as a result of cultural values that limit access to contraceptives while the low income women are at risk of unwanted pregnancies.

Among the reasons for the none use of contraceptives are, concerns about side effects, the cost of family planning and lack of adequate trained health care personnel among others.

In this vein, in 2013, there were an estimated 490,000 unwanted pregnancies, 80 percent of them not using contraceptives and 175,000 of the unintended pregnancies ended in abortions.

The study indicates that investing in family planning can save money. In 2013, government spent FCFA 6.87 billion and it would cost FCFA 12 billion to fulfil half the unmet need for contraception. But the expenditure for reproductive health represents only 1.1 percent of the health budget.

Government is urged to increase investment in reproductive health to attain the goal of doubling contraceptives prevalence by 2020. Also, to achieve a significant reduction in maternal and infant mortality, government needs to invest in health care and service delivery infrastructure.

The study was equally presented to government, international organisations and heads of diplomatic missions to Cameroon. Bankole on the occasion expressed satisfaction on the collaboration between IFORD and the Guttmacher Institute and promised to step up research in other areas related to reproductive health.

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