A health official says the highest users of family planning methods in Botswana are young women aged between 19 and 25 years. Speaking to Arts & Society in an interview on condition of anonymity, the official stated that despite the emergency pill not being regarded as a long-term family planning method, most youth were mishandling the pill which could be catastrophic to their health.
“I can confidently confirm that most Batswana young women favour the use of the emergency pill and the majority of these young women are not aware of the fact that this (pill) is only supposed to be used three times in a year,” she explained.
She revealed that the reason it should be taken three times in a year is because of the long-term effects which can be experienced over a period of 8 to 10 years. “Young women must understand that in terms of side effects, most family planning methods range from strong side effects to generally mild or to no side effects at all. It is the responsibility of every user to know all this information,” she says adding that in some cases users can even experience abnormal heavy bleeding and weight gain.
Based on her expertise, she urged young girls to use condoms or the IUD (intrauterine device) since it does not affect the hormonal balance.
“Policymakers should be conscious of this issue and not run away from it because the truth is our young girls are very much sexually active. We need to engage them so that we keep an eye on abortions and adolescent pregnancies,” she says.
A research conducted by International Open Journal of Educational Research highlighted that when teenagers fall pregnant, they often choose to abort in order to prevent family and friends from finding out that they are sexually active.
With an estimated 60% of the population in Sub-Sahara Africa being below the age of 25, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says 21% of women in Sub-Sahara Africa want to avoid a pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. “To maximise demographic dividend Botswana must pay attention to preventing unplanned pregnancies among young women,” says UNFPA.
Family planning ÔÇô the information, means and methods that allow individuals to decide if and when to have children ÔÇô was proclaimed a human right obligation of every government, country and policymakers 50 years ago.