Even in more than four decades after the implementation of family planning programs in Nepal, the idea is still regarded as a process of sterilization against big family. In these decades, the use of family planning has brought drastic changes from a high fertility rate of over 6 to present trend of more than 3.
Family planning is regarded as a medium to control population rather than taking it in its broader sense of family management for prosperity and happiness in human life.
At a function organized by the International Council on Management of Population Programs (ICOMP) and the Population Association Nepal with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (USA), Nepalese lawmakers, scholars, experts, high level government officials and media persons shared their ideas about how to regard family planning in the changing context.
Ignorant about the new development and state of Nepal’s family planning issue, Nepalese lawmakers actively took part in the interactions expressing the views on why family planning mattered to Nepal. The two days’ high level consultation, among others, extensively addressed the issues of population management, uses of contraceptives and implications of sterilisations and mediums of family planning.
At a time when Nepal has already made some good progress in family planning sector, parliamentarians, secretaries of ministry, policy makers, academics, media persons and NGO activists discussed current demographic situation and status of family planning program in Nepal, successes, changing needs and challenges.
The meeting started with the presentation of two papers. Dr. Ram Hari Aryal, secretary to the Ministry of Science and Technology, presented the first paper on demographic situation in Nepal. Likewise, Dr. Govinda Subedi, president of PAN and Ananda Tamang, executive director of CREHPA, presented a paper on the status of family planning and reproductive health in Nepal- successes, issues and gaps.
“I expect that this meeting will help discuss various gaps that existed in the way to achieve the goals of quality services of family planning in Nepal and South Asia,” said Wasim A. Zaman, Ph.D. Executive Director of ICOMP, at the opening the session. “Enhanced commitment of leaders to quality Reproductive Health and Family Planning will help us attain the MDG goals,” said the chief of Malaysia based ICOMP.
Nepal’s lawmaker Ratna Gurung recommended that concrete measures and initiatives should be pursued for engaging men for supportive roles for family planning. Similarly, another law maker Hari Roka stressed on the need of educating and mobilizing the local institutions, including schools, for sharing the message of family planning. Lawmaker Indrajeet Rai and former vice speaker of parliament Chitra Lekha Yadav also shared their views.
Although Nepal has made certain progress in family planning, the time has come to fine-tune it in the changing context. “There is the need to revitalize family planning program focusing on all levels,” said Chitra Lekha Yadav, Former Deputy Speaker and Treasurer of Nepali Congress. CA member Dr. Indra jit Rai proposed that quality of life of the people is the key issue and that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
“Family planning is essential for happy family and there is the need to have a focused program now,” said former health minister Bhakta Bahadur Balayar. Presenting his paper at the workshop, Dr. Ram Hari Aryal, secretary to the Ministry of Science and Technology, pointed out that the present age structure of Nepal is heavily weighted toward young age groups and rapidly growing population in the future.
The participants identified their own roles in strengthening the positive messages of family planning in a redefined way to meet the local context. The two days workshop held on 16 -17 May 2011 drew some major conclusions that family planning needs to be in priority in an integrated approach taking due care of family happiness, women's empowerment and trained and responsible human resource at the community level.
Following intense discussions on national issues, the last day session discussed on the issue to present in the SAARC level meeting. Moderated by Dr. Aryal and Dr. Wasim Zaman, the participants suggested that the regional level meeting should include experience sharing programs.
Prof. Dr. Ram Sharan Pathak, Prof. Bal Krishna Mabuhang, Dr. Padma Prasad Khatiwada and Panchakumari Manandhar, and Dr. Nilu Aryal, division chief of family health division of Ministry of Population of Health, also shared their experiences.
“Family planning issues need to be seen in the present context. Nepal needs to reorient its traditional approach of just looking at it as a matter of population control. Family Planning is also part of family prosperity and happiness,” said Dr. Navin Thapa, maternal health expert. Assistant Lecturer of Population Division of Padma Kanya Campus Bhagwati Shedhai shared the conclusions of the program.