By Ndey Sowe
Photo: Deputy Governor from right taking notes, Baboucarr Cham (health expert) in the middle in blue and a female health expert during the session at Diabucu Basee URR
Essa Conteh, the Deputy Governor of Upper River Region (URR), has emphasized the need to promote family planning in the country as he pointed out its importance to oneself.
“Family Planning is not only about protecting yourself sexually but protecting yourself health wise,” he said during an interview with this reporter on the ongoing campaign dubbed: “I Am for Zero”, held at Diabucu Basse URR.
“I Am for Zero” is a platform to promote the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) The Gambia’s three transformative results: zero unmet for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.
Conteh explained the reasons why most women in the rural areas don’t take Family Planning (FP).
“Most women are not taking the FP because of the perception they have; some have religious perception and some men think if the women are protected, to do fornication is likely to happen,” he said.
Conteh added that in most cases if a woman wants to do family planning, the husband will not allow her to do it. Thus, he said these are the things that they are trying to change from husbands. With regard to gender-based violence, he narrated that it is uncommon in URR but happening elsewhere in the country.
“We need to understand that we should live together as men and women are partners,” he remarked, adding women should not be seen as slaves or house helps.
Speaking further, Conteh said everyone should be aware of the reason(s) why women should go for family planning and be in the center of decision-making to ensure they move forward.
Baboucarr Ngum, Regional Leprosy and Tuberculosis Control Officer at the Basse Regional Health Directorate, said there is also family planning for males, citing the condom as an example.
“The woman taking the family planning will help her health status and even the child,” he advised. “There might be complications if a woman is giving birth every year.”
He therefore advised women to take family planning so that they can space up their birth.
With regard to vaccination for cervical cancer, Ngum said they faced a lot of challenges to get the targeted people to be vaccinated against cervical cancer aged below eighteen.
“Patients do not allow their kids to take the vaccine because they think the vaccine will make them not to produce or be infertile,” he revealed.
He stressed that there is a big problem to manage cervical cancer in the Gambia, adding that it kills easily. Thus, he said it is very important to prevent “our kids, especially the girl child from getting the infection.”
Jainaba Jeffang, a woman at Diabucu in Basse, URR, urged her fellow women to take family planning for their own safety and that of their children. She also encouraged men to help their wives and get involve themselves in sexual and reproductive health issues as well as in addressing gender-based violence in communities.