There was a time when Bangladesh's national family planning policies were a role model for other countries to emulate. That was then; today the situation is slightly different. According to experts attending the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), there has been no progress in family planning for the last four years. The total fertility rate has remained at 2.3, i.e. every woman giving birth to 2.3 children per year. This data remains unchanged since 2011. Although there are both temporary and permanent methods of contraception, the high rate of dropouts amongst women leads to some 1.3 million unwanted pregnancies every year. These have physical, psychological and economic consequences.
Family planning programmes appear to have taken a backseat at policy level. With nearly half the 1,200 family planning and welfare officers' posts under the Directorate General of Family Planning lying vacant for ten years, it is a wonder that we have managed to keep fertility rates stagnant. Which preventive measure will be adopted to attain best results is a decision for the Ministry of Health. However, it is imperative that we recruit the necessary medical personnel so that the populace living in the remote and rural areas of Bangladesh can be attended to. It is also necessary to involve mass media again to help convey messages in the form of infotainment about family planning and also not to reduce the minimum marriageable age for women if we want to reduce the fertility rates in the country.