Stuttering FP programme | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 03, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 03, 2008

Editorial

Stuttering FP programme

High level intervention to provide impetus needed

WE are concerned at the slow progress in containing the baby boom for which the Millennium Development Goal (MDG-5) is likely to be difficult to attain by 2015. MDG was set at reducing total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.2 percent by 2010. According to Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey 2007, the TFR in the period 1993-94 was 3.4 percent, which came down to 2.7 in 2007 but did not come down any further. Poor management of the programme is widely considered the main reason for the stagnancy in achieving the target.
The success attained in making family planning popular during the 70s and 80s was the result of unwavering commitment of a dedicated field work force and highly motivated set of officials. The strategy for home delivery of contraceptive methods and distributing communication materials worked well despite initial resistance from community members.
The programme got a boost in the 80s that saw an increase in the demand for long-term and permanent contraceptive methods, and supply of these methods was ensured by both government and non-government organisations. But in 1999, with the introduction of the Health and Population Sector Programme (HPSP), the family planning programme suffered a major setback.
The problems became acute when supply flow of different contraceptives, like oral pills, injectables, IUD and condoms in the country began to dwindle, which caused a large number of eligible couples to abandon family planning practices. Understandably, this led to a baby boom in the country to the discomfort of the family planning advocates and population watchers.
A study shows that while on one hand, the contribution of the public sector in providing family planning methods continues to decline; on the other, the number of field workers to supply contraceptives decreased to 20 percent last year from 23 percent in 2004. It is indeed a matter of concern that some 8,152 posts of field level workers have been lying vacant for last 12 years because of bureaucratic bottlenecks. This clearly speaks for the decrease in door-to-door visits by the field workers in rural areas.
For Bangladesh, a small country as far as land area is concerned, overpopulation will negatively impact its economic and social developments. We must have a pragmatic policy and a fool-proof strategy to keep population growth in check. The departments concerned will have to work energetically to bring the concept of planned family to the center stage of our family life.

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