Family planning in conflict

Adequate access to reproductive health services can be a
permanent issue in countries where healthcare systems are already sub-optimal,
but this becomes intensified in areas of conflict.  New research
from Conflict and Health has
highlighted the gap between women wishing to receive family planning facilities
in war-torn areas, and the actuality of this. 
There is a demand for spacing and limiting births across Africa as a
whole, but in conflict-affected countries the demand far outstrips the
available services. 

The RAISE
program initiative and its partners work in areas affected by conflict and aim
to look  specifically at reproductive
health and family planning, a ‘gap’ often overlooked by humanitarian and
development agencies . The researchers surveyed women in the RAISE program’s
catchment area about their views on family planning and assessed the health
facilities that they had access to in six locations across Sudan, Uganda and
the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The survey showed that between 30% and 40% of women did not
want another child within the next two years however modern contraception was only
available to less than 4% of women, in some areas.  This can lead to unintended pregnancy which
can often compound the existing stresses of being internally displaced or
living in an area of violence.  Uganda  and West Darfur had the highest contraceptive
prevalence of contraception (16.2% and 12% respectively) and it is thought that
this can be attributed to the presence of International Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) Marie Stopes
and Save the Children offering
family planning education and services in these 
areas.  An assessment by the
researchers found that only one third of healthcare facilities providing family
planning services had adequate staff, with some catchments not being served at
all.  

The research recommends that there is great demand for
reproductive services in these conflict zones, with the most successful
operations in place where programs are localized and grounded in the community.  

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