National Family Planning Board's Executive Director Dr Olivia McDonald spoke at the recently held Second International Public Health Conference hosted by the University of Technology. She addressed the topic of contraceptive security in Jamaica and indicated that contraceptive security is a global phenomenon. She said that the magnitude of the challenge is to ensure that people can choose, obtain, and use a wide range of high-quality, affordable contraceptive methods including condoms for STI/HIV prevention.
McDonald also spoke of the benefits of investing in family planning in the developing world in preventing unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions and pregnancy-related deaths.
"You have to have a programme plan … " Dr McDonald noted, " ... a whole market approach." She went on to highlight the correlation between family planning and poverty. There is a major concern with the disconnect between the laws on the age of sexual consent (16 years) and maturity for access to contraception (18 years). A girl can legally consent to sex at age 16, but she needs parental consent to access medical services until she reaches 18.
Records reveal that worldwide 16 million adolescent girls become mothers every year, lacking access to sexual and reproductive health services to avoid unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections. As a result, an estimated three million unsafe abortions took place in developing countries among girls aged 15 to 19, in 2008.
Almost 40 per cent of the 6,800 new HIV infections each day are among young people and, in Jamaica, the adolescent fertility rate is 72 births per 1,000 young women (15-19). Pregnancy curtails the educational pursuits of young girls, causing them to drop out of school. This results in a continuing cycle of lack of oppor-tunity, and exclusion.
Source: National Family Planning Board