World Population Day 2018 - Are We Talking Enough About Family Planning?

By: Shreevidhya Ravi

Published On: July 11, 2018

It has been 50 years since the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights declared family planning as a globally affirmed human right. The conference’s outcome document, known as the Teheran Proclamation, stated unequivocally: “Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”

“Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill.”

- Stephen Hawking

Our world population amounts to 7.6 billion at the moment!

One cannot afford to ignore the implications of the population explosion in our country. Interestingly enough, this surge has only happened over the last couple of decades. We cannot forget the fact that historical trends, changes in policy, socio-economic conditions and culture etc have contributed to the surge in population.

The Nine Standards to uphold the right to family planning act as an effective framework to work with family planning. They talk about parameters that needs to be regulated, monitored and implemented for healthy changes to come about concerning family planning. 

1. Non Discrimination

Family planning and any information surrounding it cannot be restricted on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, political affiliation, national origin, age, economic status, place of residence, disability status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

2. Available

Information and service regarding contraceptives and their usage must be available to everyone. Factoring in everyone’s needs, the differentiation factor and various barriers associated with it needs to be mandated. It is crucial to understand that the quality of information that can be understood might differ in nature based on one’s education, background and health infrastructure. 

3. AccessibleNeedless to say, formulating a wholesome guideline for family planning will amount to nothing if the lack of access acts as a hassle to its implementation. The level of rigor associated with effective family planning should also apply to accessibility and affordability. Physical accessibility and affordability are two parameters that need to taken into consideration. 

4. Acceptable 

Contraceptive services and information need to be dispersed in a manner that is dignified, inclusive of cultures and respecting modern medical ethics.

5. Good QualityFamily planning communication, procedures and information about medicines must be clearly communicated. Furthermore, contraceptive commodities must be provided by qualified health personnel sanitary premises.

6. Informed Decision-Making

Every individual must feel informed enough to make decisions that reflect autonomy and are free of misrepresentation, coercion or duress. The contraceptive counseling must be comprehensive and should equip people to understand their choices better while endowing them with the right to refuse any and all options. 

7. Privacy and Confidentiality

Health workers must be trained to be sensitive to the privacy of others and should be able to uphold the confidentiality of all people exercising their right to family planning. 

8. Participation

There needs to be an obligation to ensure that women who become the recipients of certain family planning services are well represented when it comes to policies in the development sphere that influence and shape their choices. The policies concerning sexual and reproductive health and family planning must call for involvement from the youth of the country as well, especially from an educational perspective. More importantly, marginalized and vulnerable pockets of people and their perspectives should certainly be assimilated into the services belonging to their communities. 

9. Accountability

It is imperative that all the stakeholders involved in family planning, i.e. health personnel, academicians, policy makers, leaders etc must be held to high standards of accountability. Their efforts should result in marginalized people becoming self aware and feeling empowered enough to make informed decisions. 

These parameters have been drafted, keeping in mind the need for the wholesome implementation of family planning in the future, irrespective of educational, cultural and economic differences. These 9 standards aim to act as a how to guide in order for various countries to make their family planning policies and procedures as effective and as standardized as possible.

World Population Day should serve as a day for us to reflect on our efforts to spread holistic awareness about the information, processes and procedures involved with best practices. Practices need to reflect on a society evolving to be inclusive, empowered and more importantly, fairly represented by anyone and everyone. 

India started thinking about family planning way back in 1952, when it launched a National Programme for Family Planning- which was later renamed to National Family Welfare Programme in 1997. Coincidentally, it became the first country in the world to have launched a programme based on family planning. Needless to say, the world has high hopes from the country that became the first in the world to launch a family planning programme. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on the much needed family planning initiatives to curb the ever-expanding population! Drop us an email at [email protected]

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