What factors are contributing to this limited contraceptive use, increasing unintended pregnancy, and population growth among Rohingya refugees?
Although the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and many national and international organisations have been providing Rohingya refugees with family planning education and contraceptives for reducing unintended pregnancy and controlling population growth, the refugee population is growing at a fast pace due to the limited use of contraceptives.
According to a recent report of Save the Children, since August 2017, around 76,000 babies were born in Rohingya camps. This suggests that the prevalence of contraceptive use among Rohingya refugees is quite low, which contributed to increasing unintended pregnancy and population growth.
Now, the questions may arise: despite the existence of family planning programs, why is contraceptive use low among them? And, what factors contributed to this limited contraceptive use, increasing unintended pregnancy, and population growth?
A new study, entitled "Access to female contraceptives by Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study" published in the World Health Organisation's bulletin, attempted to answer these questions.
The findings of this study indicated that approximately 50% of the Rohingya women do not use any contraceptives. Husbands' objection to condom use, desiring more children, fundamental religious beliefs, and reluctance to family planning were the primary reasons for limited contraceptive use.
The study also indicated that the use of effective contraceptives – condom (0%), female sterilisation (0.80%), and intrauterine device (0.4.0%) – was sharply lower than that of relatively ineffective ones including depo-provera (67.33%) and pills (29.88%).
This suggests the necessity for changing the distribution of contraception types.
Additionally, current contraception policies and programs need to include women's partners, who objected to using condoms and other contraceptives, and influential community leaders (Imams). It is also vital to increase family planning workers and their monitoring activities.
Besides, MoHFW and development partners should undertake effective policies for enhancing contraceptive use and controlling the Rohingya population.
Otherwise, an increase in the Rohingya population will not only exacerbate Bangladesh's existing population crisis but also make it difficult to provide humanitarian and family planning services.
Md Nazmul Huda is a researcher and an academic in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, Australia. Email: [email protected]
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.