Population, Family Planning and Contraception
The current population of Bangladesh is 168 million (worldometers). Bangladesh is the eighth most populated country in the world, and the fifth most populated country in Asia. It has one of the highest population densities in the world. In the past years, Bangladesh has done very well in reducing the growth of population and improving maternal and child health. The government has kept family planning in one of its top priorities in the 4th Health Sector Programme 2017-2021 with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The fact that reproductive health and gender equality is essential for achieving sustainable development was realised by 179 governments twenty-five years ago at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.
Family planning campaigns in the country are carried out by the government, NGOs, private organisations, and is coordinated by the Directorate General of Family Planning. Prioritising family planning does not only benefit the nation by controlling the growth of population, but these programmes educate women and their families, as a result, there is a decrease in the number of maternal deaths, women have knowledge about birth spacing, motherhood is delayed, child marriage is reduced, and unplanned pregnancies are avoided. Family planning programmes enable families to stop child bearing once they reach their planned family size, and gives them knowledge about contraception and other birth control methods. Yet, one of the major challenges is to empower women, as in many cases, they are the only ones who always have to rely on contraceptive methods for protection against pregnancy.
The most common way of contraception in Bangladesh is birth control pills. The use of contraceptives was introduced in the 1960s as a means of family planning. Other means of contraception are birth control shots, and IUD. IUD means intrauterine device. It is a T-shaped device that is inserted inside the uterus, and provides provides protection from pregnancy for up to 5-10 years. It is an interesting point that except for male condoms, all the temporary birth control methods are meant for women. This year, the BBC reported that a birth control pill for men is being tested which contains hormones to stop sperm production. If successful, this will create more contraceptive options for men.
In Bangladesh, family planning and birth control is widely subsidised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the services are made available in all divisions of Bangladesh. However, the use of contraceptives depends on the individual’s preference, societal and cultural norms etc. In spite of awareness programs, many people still choose not to use birth control methods due to misconceptions and religious beliefs. Aside from making the products and services available in all parts of the country, and carrying out awareness programmes, new ways should be found to make sure contraception methods are positively accepted by all so that we can control the population growth at a more rapid rate.