In an effort to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates, Laos will focus on reducing the unmet need for contraception to 13 percent, and increase the contraceptive prevalence rate from 42 to 65 percent by the year 2020.
During the first National Family Planning Conference held in Vientiane on Tuesday, statistics indicated that the nation’s unmet need for family planning still lingers at a high 20 percent, and surging up to 31 percent among various ethnic groups.
Statistics also revealed that the adolescent birth rate is 76 live births per 1,000 girls in the 15-19 age group, adolescent contraceptive use is low at 22.3 percent, and the unmet need for contraception is at 22.6 percent.
Themed “Investing in Family Planning for Economic Prosperity”, the National Family Planning Conference was officiated by Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Sonexay Siphandone, with representatives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Health Organisation and World Bank in attendance .
The Minister of Health Associate, Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong stated, “quite simply, family planning provides choice to individuals and families, helping us work towards a future where every pregnancy is wanted and every childbirth is safe.”
The Prof. Dr added, “we have seen Laos’ maternal mortality ratio drop from 357 per 100,000 live births in 2012 to 206 per 100,000 live births in 2015, surpassing the Millennium Development Goal target we had set. We have come a long way, but we still have some miles to go to reach the target of 180 per 100,000 live births, in order to graduate from the Least Developed Country status in 2020. We couldn’t have done this without family planning along with strengthened midwifery services.”
By granting easier access to family planning, the number of adolescent pregnancies will decrease significantly, allowing young women to stay in good physical health, completing their education, striving towards future goals, and eventually deciding on their own terms, when and how many kids they may want to have.
On a global scale, family planning has contributed to preventing maternal and child morbidity and mortality substantially.
Along with UNFPA, Laos has also seen tremendous support for the family planning program by Family Planning 2020, the global initiative funded by a range of donor governments and institutions, and hosted by the United Nations Foundation.