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From: Family spacing – Footsteps 3

Raising awareness of population pressures and the benefits of family spacing

The lives of 5.6 million children and 200,000 women could all be saved each year if all the women who wanted to limit their families had access to family planning.

500,000 women die of maternal causes a year. More than 200,000 of these could be saved if they were able to plan their families.

10 million children under the age of five die each year – more than half of these as a result of poor maternal health during pregnancy, unsafe delivery or inadequate care after birth.

Modern family planning methods were not available many years ago. People developed tradition methods for spacing children. Women would sometimes return to their parents for up to two years after a birth. Sometimes husband and wife would sleep separately until the child was weaned at two to three years of age. Also, more children would die of diseases, which can now be prevented through immunisation, improved hygiene and medicines.

Now, few people use these traditional ways of spacing their families. Many couples have eight or more children quite close together. People need new ways to help them space their families.

Encourage people in your area to think about these issues. Could you make up dramas or puppet plays to encourage discussion?

Questions for group discussion…

Spacing for health

Every gardener knows that plants placed close together do not grow well! In the same way, spacing births helps produce heavier children. Because they can have more of their mother’s attention, they are healthier and do better at school. Children are twice as likely to survive if they are born two to three years apart than if they are born every year or so.

A 3% population growth rate…
The population will double every 20 years

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