50% pregnancies are unplanned- report

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  • Remains cagey with information on family planning
  • Ministry report states a number of missed opportunities to educate and provide patients with the necessary information
  • Gov’t not taking up assistance from development partners?

QUEEN MOSARWE

Findings from a recent report by the Ministry of Health; 2016 Botswana Investment Case on Investment Towards Effective HIV Prevention, Health System Strengthening & The End of AIDS have revealed that the government has been failing in their mandate to provide family planning commodities and public awareness, a challenge that has arguably resulted in unprecedented number of unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies and has led many to perform life threatening back street abortions.
According to the report, 50 per cent of women in Ante-Natal  Clinic (ANC) cited their pregnancies to having been not planned for despite them not knowing their HIV status.
On the other hand,  reports from Princess Marina Hospital indicate that  1817  abortions were recorded since January to October 2016;  1304 being incomplete abortions, 130 threatened abortions,  141 septic abortions,  81 missed, 62  complete while  99 were  inevitable.
Furthermore, by May 2016, 407 cases of teenage pregnancies were recorded by the Ministry of Education in the past year.  The  figures  were recorded at a time when Botswana adopted a policy shift from abstinence to Birth Control education- education reported to also  having reduced  over the years.
Following the report 2016 Botswana Investment Case on Investment Towards Effective HIV Prevention, Health System Strengthening & The End of AIDS,  and the grim figures recorded over the years,  the Ministry of Health and Wellness  remains  cagey  on information surrounding family planning commodities as well as their   procurement .  This surfaced after this publication learnt, through  a development partner  that out of the  16 family planning commodities  that UNFPA usually assists countries in  the East and Southern Africa (ESA)  region with , Botswana requested for the provision  of only two. UNFPA  revealed that Botswana requested 450 000 female condoms and 2000 jadelle implants for the year 2016. UNFPA assists  ESA countries in their  efforts to  achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive  care and reduce maternal mortality in the region amongst its other mandates.
The   report states that the failure by government to provide alternative commodities has  since led to  over reliance  on male condoms.  Furthermore, the report states  that while this is the case, most clinics providing ART did not provide other  methods of  contraception and that family planning was scant.
“There are a number of missed opportunities to educate and provide patients with the necessary information they need to make the most appropriate reproductive choices for themselves and their  families, ” the report reads in part.
Questions  sent  to the Ministry of Health  on the 4th November  for a story that was eventually published without their  response  (despite several follow ups) , were  answered a month later  on the 9th December  by Ministry Public Relations Officer Doreen Motshegwa  who avoided the questions asked. The ministry’s spokesperson  resorted instead  to giving short unclear answers of the matters raised.  Inquiring  from the ministry on their   choice of the two  family planning commodities, they answered briefly ; “ we  requested what was not in stock.”  Asked on the current rate use of the female condom as past reports had indicate that it was unpopular   considering that   almost  half a   million  had been procured,  Motshegwa answered   “ We encourage the use of female condoms and male condoms but the choice remains with the user,” explaining however that the male condom was generally  the most used.
Further asked if, from their two commodities request from UNFPA , the government was therefore  sufficient  with  other commodities , the ministry answered ; “ Government as the main entity offering health services to the nation considers  health partners efforts  in providing quality health services. We usually request different items/services from different partners.”
While the ministry’ response suggests  that   things are in order and under control, this is contrary to what  Minister of Health Dorcus Makgato recently said when presenting the  ministry’s NDP 11 budget proposal to parliament. She indicated that  the ministry was challenged financially amongst many other challenges including  mismatch between expenditure on health and health outcomes and inefficiencies in the health sector.  To that end, Makgato  requested a total of  P9 067 000 000.00  for projects she said were aimed at strengthening health prevention interventions and improving access to quality health care services.

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