KAMPALA – United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA annual State of the World Population Report 2022 shows that 50% of the pregnancies in the world are unintended.
The revelation was made by Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, UNFPA Regional Director East and Southern Africa in an interview with the press on his one-week visit to Uganda at UNFPA Uganda head offices in Kololo, Kampala.
Dr. Ndyanabangi is currently on a mission visiting Uganda ahead of the dissemination of the State of the World Population Report 2022 entitled, ‘Seeing the Unseen: The Case for Action in the Neglected Crisis of Unintended Pregnancy”.
“…it’s about choices for women to plan their lives, to plan their pregnancies, to plan when with whom and how many children to have, so this is what we want to highlight in this report.”
He regretted that 50% of unwanted pregnancies is a very high proportion which causes many to end up in abortions.
“About 60% of these unintended pregnancies end up in abortion,” he said.
“About 10% of maternal death are a result of abortions and most abortions are a result of unintended pregnancies,” he added.
UNFPA Regional Director who is based in Johannesburg said he is also here to visit programs of UNFPA, meet government officials to discuss these programs, and forge a way to improve and enhance partnership.
He disagrees with those who think that only promiscuous women and reckless teenagers have unintended pregnancies.
“We know that every woman regardless of age, background, education, religion, culture, race as long as they are fertile can get pregnant. So, really it’s not about promiscuous women or reckless teenagers.”
He says UNFPA looks at this as a rights issue, the right to bodily autonomy, arguing that their work is to prevent these unintended pregnancies by partnering with the government to ensure that women have access to contraception, information and sexual and health reproductive services.
“The question is about choices, services, access. In terms of Uganda, you have to look at the systems. If you look at health services, we still have challenges starting from the human resources, the supplies and as a result, some women who want to use family planning don’t have access to these services.”
UNFPA Regional Director, however, appreciated the fact that the contraceptive prevalence rate in Uganda today is about 35% compared to 1998 when it was at 7%, saying that there is an improvement but not good enough.
“So we need to double our efforts,” he said, adding that, “we are partnering with the government to strengthen systems so that the services are there in the last village.”
On underage girls, Ndyanabangi recommended enough information, age-appropriate compressive sexuality education to be provided in and out of school.
“When you have information then you can make a choice.”
He also called for male involvement in the planning of pregnancy.
“We know that contraceptives have different success rates and we usually encourage that even when a woman is using contraceptive of any type, the should still use a condom.”
Asked how unintended pregnancies could be linked to Uganda’s struggle to harness the demographic dividend, he said that as countries develop, mortality declines, especially among children.
“In terms of mortality trends in Uganda, in 1988 infant mortality rate was over 100% and today is 43%, maternal mortality has also gone down, so, we have many children surviving. That youth bulge need to have education so they are employable and able to be productive because in their productivity is where you get a dividend as a country. The challenge we have here in Uganda is that the fertility is still very high, so, we have a high dependency ratio.”
He says demographic dividend happens if the dependency ratio goes down with fewer children to look after.
“…. you have a youth bulge whom you have invested in so that they are able to work, you have health services which everybody and the girls can access these services, prevent unintended pregnancies, stay in school and that’s how countries develop.”
The UNFPA Regional Director will be supporting the launch of two reports; The Economic and Social Burden of Teenage Pregnancy in Uganda; The Cost of Inaction’ and The State of the World Population Report 2022 entitled, ‘Seeing the Unseen: The Case for Action in the Neglected Crisis of Unintended Pregnancy.