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Children need families - Sethi

Published:Friday | November 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Dr Sandra Knight

THE MESSAGE of family planning needs a different approach in order to reach more of the vulnerable.

Data from the 2012 State of World Population Report and Jamaica's National Family Planning Board (NFPB) indicate that family planning is still seen as the women's responsibility.

"We need to invest more in a wider range of technology, especially for men," said Geeta Sethi, subregional director for United Nations Population Fund in the Caribbean.

Sethi, speaking at Wednesday's launch of the population report, emphasised that there needs to be a family approach as a child doesn't get born only through the action of one parent.

"You need a family to grow a child. This is a joint decision to contribute to the creation of that child," she said. Sethi highlighted that there were different forms of families in different parts of the world.

"In some cultures, it's not just the decision of the couple," she noted. Sethi opined that everyone who will be around the child and contribute to its welfare should be part of the decision. From a local perspective, chair of the National Family Planning Board (NFPD), Dr Sandra Knight, felt that other than the faith-based organisations, family planning stakeholders need to get into other areas where the message is needed.

"I suggest that we need to go out in the bars, the go-go clubs, the street corners, that's where we need to be going and talking to people about families," she said. Dr Knight said even popular dances like Weddy-Weddy should also be targeted.

"The Church already has a good take on the matter, but we need to think wider. We can use the Church to get there, but we have to expand our vision."

Dr Sharlene Jarrett, acting executive director of the NFPB, acknowledged the current messages had some success. Adolescent birth rates, for instance, have fallen from 137 (per 1,000) in 1975 to 72 per 1,000 in 2008.

But she said there were still challenges to engage the men and help them examine the role they play. She also said there needed to be a merger with the national HIV programme, the other major agency dealing with sexual reproductive health.

"By doing this we'll have access to more marginalised groups," she said.