Indonesia’s family planning program remains stagnant due to poor access to reproductive and sexual health services, which could further affect the country’s success in achieving its targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, a visiting UN specialist said.
Special adviser to the UN secretary-general and his special envoy on HIV/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific, Nafis Sadik, said Monday that fertility rates in Indonesia showed slow progress during the last decade partly due to sustained high levels of unfulfilled needs.
“The number of children born to a woman came down to 2.4 in 1997 from 6 in 1965. After that, it has not moved. It’s been at that level until now,” she said after a talk show.
The talk show titled “Beyond the MDGs: Indonesia’s Role as a Middle Income Country on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights” was held by the Office of the President’s Special Envoy on MDGs, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNAIDS and the University of Indonesia’s School of Medicine.
Sadik said poor access to sexual and reproductive health services, especially among adolescents and young people, particularly girls, would not only cause a sustained fertility rate, but might also further affect programs to reduce HIV/AIDS infections in this country,” she said.
According to data from the National Demography and Family Planning Agency (BKKBN), unmet needs for family planning services in Indonesia stands at 9 percent, remaining stagnant over the last decade.
Health Ministry data showed that 186,257 people in Indonesia were infected with HIV in 2009. Without accelerating preventive measures, the country will have see the number of people infected with HIV increase to 541,700 people by 2014.
During the 1970s to 1980s, Indonesia became one of few countries that managed to increase the use of contraception to a rate above 50 percent.
“Currently, the use of modern contraceptive methods is around 56 to 57 percent, just a bit lower than 60 percent. A poor contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has been continuing for over 10 years,” said UNFPA Indonesia representative Jose Ferraris.
Decentralization was one of many factors causing the poor CPR rate in Indonesia.
“I think it is challenging for a country as big as Indonesia, which has more than 17,000 islands, to ensure that contraceptive services are available in poor, remote and rural areas throughout the country,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Over the past two years the BKKBN has begun to revitalize Indonesia’s family planning program. This year, the agency is piloting a program called “KB Kencana” specially designed to further revitalize family planning programs in the country. The program offers a number of strategies to address the issue of why the family planning program has not progressed as expected.
“We are very excited about this and the UNFPA is currently providing technical assistance to the BKKBN in implementing the program,” Ferraris said.