Unmet need for family planning in Bikita District
Purpose of the Research:
To determine underlying causes of unmet need for family planning in Bikita District among sexually active women /girls, men/boys, couples and youth using participatory video method. To determine challenges faced in the family planning service delivery and for communities to come up with recommendations and as to how service delivery and utilization can be optimized indirectly resulting in improved maternal and child health.
This field study, which was conducted by Africa Women Filmmakers Trust in partnership with SolidarMed and the Ministry of Health and Child Care, sought to determine the underlying causes (e.g. social, cultural, religious, service provider) of unmet need for family planning in Bikita district among sexually active women/girls, men/boys, couples and the youth and challenges faced in the family planning service delivery and how communities feel these causes of unmet family planning need and gaps in service delivery can be addressed, in an effort to improve maternal health and child mortality in the district.
The process used to conduct this needs assessment was meant to promote sexual relationships that are mutually respectful, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, where couples can enjoy their sexuality safely, and ensure that every child is a wanted child and has a chance for survival and attaining their full potential without the risk of being trapped in poverty which may lead to child marriages, child trafficking, child forced labor and slavery.
The use of the participatory video production process as a tool to gather data was very effective, as it generated a sense of empowerment among the participants who became aware that there voices and concerns were heard beyond their boundaries and can be of help to influence policy and decision making to better their health.
The participatory video production process encouraged public community dialogues and community conversations focusing on cultural, social, economic and religious causes of unmet family planning needs. It looked at how these could be addressed at community level. The process further explored how service providers also contribute to this continued unmet need.
The major causes of unmet need for family planning identified were irregular supply of the oral contraceptive pills, limited choice of available family planning method, insufficient information, education and awareness of the different family planning methods. The limited involvement of men in family planning issues further exacerbated domestic based violence. As men had insufficient knowledge on the topic, they were suspicious of their wives when they unilaterally chose to use contraceptives.
While to some apostolic and zionists sects it is forbidden to take family planning , elders of the sects were suspicious that contraceptives were finding their way to their members contrary to their religious teachings and beliefs. These contraceptives were therefore being taken not only without the churches approval but also without the husband’s endorsement. This practice was confirmed by the non-apostolic and non zionists who said that they collect extra pills when they are readily available at the clinics and share with their friends.
The major causes of the unmet need for family planning in Bikita District are:
- lack of constant supplies of the pill which is the most commonly used modern method of family planning in the rural area
- limited male involvement in family planning issues as well as maternal and neo natal health issues
- perceived lack of privacy at consultation which discourages men’s participation
- failure to engage the apostolic and zionist communities who have a huge following in the district with over 60 sects in Bikita District, in a constructive way so that they appreciate the importance of family planning.