Lack of men’s support impeding use of contraceptives
ALTHOUGH more of Lesotho’s women are actively using contraceptives, there is still a huge gap caused by the lack of family support for young women and girls, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said.
According to the latest data, 60 percent of Lesotho women and sexually active girls are now using contraceptives. This is a 23 percent increase from the 37 percent that had been achieved in 2014.
Although the preferred methods of contraception vary in each district, the injectable (depot medroxyprogesterone) is the most commonly used method.
However, other types of contraceptives like mycrogynon and microlut have also proven to be popular.
Commenting on these developments, UNFPA supplies coordinator, Tšeliso Masilo, said although there had been positive strides in the use of contraceptives, there were still some barriers to free access to contraceptives.
The biggest challenge was the lack of support from men who are the heads of households, Mr Masilo said. Among the reasons for the lack of support, he said, was an array of myths and misconceptions caused by the lack of information on contraceptives among men.
Therefore, most men often stop their wives, partners and their children from using contraceptives.
“Family members, including husbands and fathers, play a vital role in supporting women and girls on the correct use of contraceptives.
“If we understood this, then we would go a long way in preventing unwanted pregnancies,” Mr Masilo said.
He said even children could also play a crucial role in assisting their mothers or other women and girls in their families to use contraceptives correctly.
Mr Masilo added that contraceptives were highly effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and maternal deaths. They were also important in reducing unsafe abortions if used correctly with appropriate counselling by qualified health care providers.
“When used correctly, contraceptives are 95 percent to 99 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. For women and girls to realise sexual and reproductive health rights and choices to achieve meaningful economic growth and personal development, they must have access to and use contraceptives. This will help them to plan when to start and end child bearing because they have a right to decide the number and spacing of their children,” Mr Masilo said.
During a recent field trip to Butha-Buthe, 24-year-old ‘Masemethe Letuka of ‘Moteng, said her two sons have been instrumental in reminding her to take her daily dose of microgynon.
Ms Letuka said her sons, aged five and eight, have helped her avoid falling pregnant for the third time. Although they have no clue what the pills are for, they remind her to take them daily.
Ms Letuka did not know about contraceptives before she fell pregnant with her first child at 15. She was to be dumped by the father of the first child and later got married to her husband two years later.
At the time of the marriage, she was already pregnant with her second son. When she embarked onto the depot contraceptive after the birth of her second son. However, a family member told her that the contraceptive would cause her to lose weight drastically.
“When a relative told me about losing weight drastically, I felt scared and ditched the contraceptive for the pill that I am taking now. Fortunately, even when I forget, to take the pill, my boys remind me to take it daily although they do not know what it is for. They know that their mother needs it to survive,” Ms Masilo said.
“My husband works in QwaQwa and comes home occasionally but I don’t think he would be as consistent as my children in reminding me about my contraceptives,” Ms Letuka said.