Tue, 31 Oct 2000

Vision 2015 for family planning

JAKARTA (JP): The National Family Planning Coordination Board (BKKBN) unveiled on Monday a new vision which it calls Quality Family 2015, putting greater emphasis on improving the quality of family life as well as controlling the population growth rate.

The vision also seeks to enlist greater participation by men in family planning, a responsibility which has largely fallen on women to this day.

State Minister for Women's Empowerment Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who also chairs the BKKBN, said that while controlling birth is still the main objective of the national family planning program, improving the quality of the family is equally important.

"Family planning has been perceived as simply a birth control measure. Aspects like reproductive health for women and maternal and infant mortality rates have been ignored," Khofifah said opening a four-day national meeting on family planning at her office.

The meeting, attended by 750 participants from all over the country, is aimed at introducing the board's new vision and its programs.

The national family planning program has drastically cut the size of an average Indonesian family from 5.6 children 30 years ago to 2.79 children today.

Both maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in Indonesia however remain among the highest in Southeast Asia.

The maternal mortality rate has stayed at around 373 deaths per 100,000 births, while the infant mortality rate still hovers at 46 per 1,000 births.

If the objective of family planning is to improve the welfare of the people, then Indonesia has not been very successful.

A government census found that 7.7 million families in the country are still living below the poverty line this year. The number actually went up from 6.9 million last year because of the prolonged economic crisis.

Khofifah said a more integrated family planning program was needed, one that would guarantee a minimum quality of services, including in the area of reproductive health.

The program should also include efforts to lower maternal and infant mortality rates, to improve the dissemination of information, to give more economic empowerment to families and to improve distribution of contraception services for poor families.

Khofifah noted that current programs focused on information for women and put all the burden of family planning on them.

"We need to reach out not only to the women, but also to the men," she said.

The family planning board is targeting the enlistment of more male participants, from a rate of 2 percent at present to at least 10 percent by 2015.

Khofifah said the family planning information campaign will also be targeted at teenagers as well as people who are already past their reproductive ages.

With regard to poor families, the government has initiated several programs, including one called the Campaign to Increase Family Income (UPPKS) in which housewives are given assistance to start their own business.

The board has also been handing out free contraceptives to the poor since April following the revelation that the number of family planning participants had declined from a peak of 25.2 million couples to 24.5 million due to the economic crisis.

Khofifah also called on participants to pay greater attention to the welfare of family planning field officials whom she considered the backbone of the national board.

"There are some 1.1 million officials out there. But they're paid very low rates at Rp 50,000 (US$5.9) per three months!" she said.

"Thanks to them, we have even been able to reach all the villages," she said.(09)