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Mission Health Facilities To Reconsider Stance On Discouraging Contraceptives

EVEN though there is nothing in scripture which explicitly prohibits contraception, some church teachings do not encourage the use of contraceptives.

This could perhaps be because Christian scriptures encourages humans to be fruitful and multiply, or maybe because it is considered as committing abortion because science says conception happens immediately after sex.

It is worth noting that there are two biblical passages in the Bible which are sometimes interpreted as being opposed to birth control. The first one being Genesis 1:28 which states that 'And God blessed them; and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'

Some people interpret that as meaning that intentionally preventing pregnancy would be wrong. But in its original context, this verse was part of a passage telling how God has given mankind stewardship over the world, and it was not a statement about birth control.

The second passage Deuteronomy 25:5-10 which states if a man died childless, his brother or nearest relative was expected to marry his widow and father a child to carry on the deceased's name and inherit his property.

The Bible gives clear, direct guidance on many topics of morality, but not on birth control. Thus, any inferences from the Bible are opinions and not Biblical evidence.

Despite the biblical teachings, the narrative is slowly changing because more women access contraceptives as it is considered their right.

Even though it is a right, Zambia has about 21 percent of married women aged 15 to 49 who still have unmet family planning needs.

This statistic leaves much to be desired and is a clear indication that Zambia has a long way to go in meeting all the sexual reproductive needs of its people.

This is according to the 2019 report by the Medicines Research and Access Platform (MedRAP) on a research which measures Accessibility, Availability and Affordability of Sexual Reproductive Health Commodities.

This is why the research also suggests that there is urgent need to continue intensifying strategies focusing on both the supply side and demand side.

The church's stance on contraception has been consistent and clear in most of the health facilities which they manage as they do not provide family planning commodities.

There are rural places in Zambia were the only available health facility is Church run which usually deprives the women in the area to access family planning commodities.

This is why during the dissemination meetings by MedRAP team in Southern Province, The Livingstone Pastors Fellowship chaired by Pastor Oscar Muyunda said there is need for the church to consider advocating for the use of contraceptives.

Pastor Muyunda said the church must not discourage the use of contraceptives but rather teach about them to help with child spacing and preserving the health of its members who might succumb to pregnancy complications.

And Chief Mukuni of the Toka-Leya people of Kazungula said even though he is member of the church, he has been on many platforms advocating for the use of contraceptives.

"We need to be in the forefront as leaders to advocate for the use of contraceptives. Doing so does not mean we disrespect religion. Family planning is essential to families," he said.

Government could not pay a deaf ear to this issue and Southern Province Minister Edify Hamukale urged the church to relax their stance on contraceptives and provide them even at the church run health facilities.

Dr. Hamukale said family planning is an essential need for all our communities in Zambia including members of the church who also need these services.

While prohibitions on birth control continue, millions of church members around the world, however, have simply chosen to ignore them. But those in rural areas can't access family planning because the 'only health facility' in the area does not provide.

It is an undoubtable fact that if Zambia is to achieve universal health coverage and ensure sexual and reproductive rights for all, there is need to ensure that the commodities and services are accessible to all that need them, with particular attention for young women


 

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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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