• “Most clinics not providing ART and other contraception methods”
• Ministry of Health failing in family planning?
• Botswana requested 450 000 female condoms and 2000 units of jadelle implants- UNFPA
Failure by government to provide alternative family planning commodities in Botswana has led to over reliance on condoms, which causes unplanned pregnancies.
This is according to findings from the 2016 Botswana Investment Case on Investment Towards Effective HIV Prevention, Health System Strengthening & The End of AIDS- which shows that 50% of women in Ante-Natal Care (ANC) clinics saying that their pregnancies were unplanned for despite them not knowing their HIV status.
The report by the Ministry of Health and Wellness states that while this is the case, most clinics providing ART did not provide other methods of contraception and that family planning education 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,” it reads in part.
Missed opportunities, the reports states, include post-partum periods and when women first participate in prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT.) “Assisting HIV infected women to understand their choices, whether to initiate babies or use appropriate contraceptive methods should form the cornerstone of the sexual reproductive health integration into HIV service delivery,” the report states.
The report further says that there currently were few dedicated Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) lay counselors within ART clinics to provide women and men with information on birth control methods.
Meanwhile, speaking during a regional media advocacy workshop in Tanzania recently, UNFPA representative Tlangelani Shilubane stated that out of 16 family planning commodities they procured for 10 of East and Southern African governments in 2016, Botswana requested assistance of 450 000 units of female condoms and 2000 units of jadelle implants. Other family planning commodities procured by UNFPA for countries which they could choose from were male condoms, Depo-Provera without syringes, soloshot syringes, emergency pills and mycrolut amongst others.
A questionnaire sent to the Ministry of Health on 4th November 2016 and follow up calls had not been answered at the time of going to print. Amongst the issues sought to be established was why the ministry had opted to procure the two commodities; the most used family planning commodity; commodities the ministry provided the public and whether based on their limited request to UNFPA, government was satisfied with other commodities. The ministry was also asked whether the use and demand of femidom had increased over the years, as past reports had indicated that its use was unpopular.
Botswana’s request for the two family planning commodities is notwithstanding the fact that the country is facing economic limitations, according to the same report: “In the wake of increasing global financial uncertainty , Botswana is also facing serious economic pressures that will remain into the foreseeable future.”