Birth Spacing to be theme for 2017 World Population Day

Energy Sunday 09/July/2017 22:26 PM
By: Times News Service
Birth Spacing to be theme for 2017 World Population Day

Muscat: Birth Spacing, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA’s) theme for this year’s World Population Day is recommended for women and child health.
The theme of the World Population Day 2017 is “Birth Spacing: Empowering People, Developing Nations.”
The concept of birth spacing advises women to have a gap of at least three years before the next pregnancy, usually to ensure that the mother gets the recommended two years to breastfeed the child and to regain her health in the third year.
“Birth spacing is actually a cultural and Islamic concept and it’s about not having births every year to preserve the health of the mother, and ensure that the family is prepared to have a new child and also to ensure the health of the child and the well being of the family at large.
“When you have births every year, it might not be good for the health of the mother and might not be economically viable for the family as well, so birth spacing is actually commended as part of the Islamic values and in that way it’s different from family planning,” said Asr Ahmed Tososn, UNFPA representative to Oman.
Dr. Natalia Kanem, acting executive director of the UNFPA said birth spacing is critical for making improvements in other fields, “And since 1969, when UNFPA began its operations, it has been helping remove obstacles to birth spacing and enabling women to exercise their reproductive rights.”
“Better reproductive health care, including voluntary birth spacing, can bolster economies and contribute to sustainable development by empowering women to complete their education, join the paid labour force, be more productive in their jobs, earn higher incomes and increase savings and investments.”
Oman has also been applauded by the UNFPA for its efforts in achieving birth spacing.
“Oman in general is very progressive in all the areas of health, including birth spacing and I think they have been doing very well in the domain,” adds Tososn.
“The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Oman’s heath policies have been praised by international organisations time and time again, including the WHO and the UNFPA for its excellent health coverage and quality of services,” Tososn added.
Although in built in Islam, people are usually apprehensive about birth spacing. “Family planning is a term, which makes people feel like it is done to restrict the number of births, but birth spacing is just for the mother to have a space of at least three years, between the next pregnancy and this is in accordance with Islamic values. After child birth, the mother needs to breastfeed for two years and then she needs another year to regain her health. A verse in the Quran also supports the idea,” said Dr. Fatma Al Hinai, director of Women and Child Health, at the MoH.
The first national campaign on birth spacing in Oman was launched in 1994. “The first campaign, along with the introduction of modern methods for birth spacing, was started in 1994; prior to that people followed natural methods, which are not as effective as the modern ones,” she added.
According to Al Hinai, there are some social factors, which curb birth spacing. “There are social factors like maybe the grandmother wants more children, and things like that, but the ministry is now working on birth spacing and basically trying to ensure a better life for both mother and child.”
The current percentage of contraceptive prevalence rate in Oman is 38 per cent; however the ministry aims for all married women of reproductive age to practice birth spacing.
“In the 1980s, if we talk about the fertility, it was around 10 children per woman on an average, but in 2011, it has declined to about three children per woman, so there has been a gradual fall.”
“One of the objectives of this programme is to empower the woman, for her to decide when she wants to get children, based on her health, but she is not the only decision maker in this, the husband should also play a role.”
“In school, at the secondary level, there is a manual for students called ‘Facts of Life,’ which also has a chapter on birth spacing.”