The 2017 State of the World Population (SWOP) report released last week by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Botswana shows that this country is among countries lagging behind in ensuring access to contraceptives, with usage recorded at just 52%.
UNFPA Botswana says on an annual basis 30 girls in one class from secondary schools in the country drop out of school due to teenage pregnancy. According to the report maternal mortality ratio in the country stands at 127 per 1 000 live births and the country ranked 42 out of 50 upper middle-income countries in maternal mortality ratio. “Contraception is often out of reach for the poor, particularly those who are less educated and living in rural areas and this puts women and adolescent girls at greater susceptibility to unintended pregnancy. “Unintended pregnancies set in motion a lifetime of missed opportunities and unrealized potential, trapping a woman and her children in an endless cycle of poverty,” said UNFPA Botswana.
Poor Botswana women and poor adolescents especially girls are disadvantaged when it comes to access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services, with the country being said to be among countries that need to invest more in adolescent girls to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies and unplanned pregnancy among poor women.
“I visited a few secondary schools in Gantsi and Bobonong districts a few months ago and one of the principals said they lose about 30 girls per year due to teenage pregnancy that is equivalent to one class,” UNFPA Botswana Assistant Representative Mareledi Segotso who added that a significant number of these girls do not go back to school after giving birth despite the existence of a return-to-school policy. “They lose out as individuals. In the end their families lose out and societies and nations pay the price,” said expounded.
Segotso indicated that lack of access to contraceptives and other reproductive services is tantamount to denying women their reproduction rights, adding that globally there is too little attention in resolving the situation.
“A woman or adolescent girl who cannot enjoy her reproductive rights is one who cannot stay healthy, cannot complete her education, cannot find decent work outside the home and cannot chart her own economic future,” she explained.
UNFPA has recommended that to improve access to reproductive services and ensure equal access, countries should reach the poorest women with essential, life saving antenatal and maternal health care, meet all the needs for family planning, prioritize women in the poorest 40 percent of households, provide universal social protection floor, offer basic income security and cover essential services, including maternity-related benefits and support.