MISCONCEPTIONS ASIDE

Religious leaders have active role in promoting family planning

Planned births reduce risk of death of mother and child, give both a better life

In Summary

• Child Health USA said a child born less than two years after a previous birth is 60 per cent more likely to die as an infant.  

• Greatest challenge for religious leaders in advancing family planning is overcoming their misconceptions on the use of contraceptives.

Contraceptive pills
CONTRADICTORY?: Contraceptive pills
Image: FILE

At the 1968 UN International Conference on Human Rights in Tehran, the world declared that parents have a basic right to determine the number and spacing of their children. 

Yet 50 years later, up to 214 million women in developing regions still lack safe and effective family planning methods due to lack of information or services and support from their partners or communities.

Family planning is not only a human right but also crucial for women empowerment, alleviating poverty and attaining sustainable development goals.

As a servant of God, I have an obligation to ensure God’s people are able to lead healthy lives free from suffering and deprivation. I have firsthand experience on issues resulting from the lack of family planning. I am faced with real-life dilemmas when I have to observe children suffering and dying from malnutrition, malaria and respiratory infections.

Other children become delinquent due to a lack of proper parenting and education because their parents cannot afford to take them to school. The situation is worse when women die giving birth. 

As an informed member of the clergy, the words Bible and birth control are not contradictory. The Bible can teach us a lot about family planning; a husband and wife should plan their families because God also makes plans.

The timing, sequencing and spacing of God’s creation are planned out in fine detail from the beginning. Similarly, God expects everyone to wisely plan for the future.

In Kenya, faith-based organisations provide an estimated 40 per cent of healthcare services and many of them provide family planning, recognising that it is consistent with their values. 

Studies conducted by Child Health USA between 2006-10 show that short periods between pregnancies are dangerous for mother and child, with risks such as uterine rupture and other life-threatening conditions. 

Research shows that when a child is born less than two years after a previous birth, that child is 60 per cent more likely to die as an infant than a one who is born three to five years later.

Healthy families lead to healthy communities who can seek education and avoid poverty. Being the light of the world, the church should shine the light on family planning to save our communities.  

The greatest challenge for religious leaders in advancing family planning is overcoming their misconceptions on the use of contraceptives. Their concerns are based on misconceptions about family planning methods rather than their religious beliefs. 

They fear that hormonal methods are dangerous and can cause infertility. But, these methods are safer than the lack of family planning which is associated with numerous risks to the mother, child and the community.

These leaders can be a positive influence in their communities to advance family planning when they have sound information and assistance.

 

The writer is a cleric at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Murang'a county.