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Contraceptives & Family Planning in Gambia
 
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Family Planning:
The Contraceptive Prevalence and Fertility Determinants Survey (1990) revealed that only 6.7% of the Gambian population uses contraceptives. Although agencies such as The Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA) encourage the use of contraceptives, family planning continues to meet with resistance for a number of reasons. One major factor that affects the utilization of contraceptives is the husbandís role in determining the family size.

Many husbands do not support the use birth control because they desire to have many children. Another deterrent to family planning is the practice of polygamy. In fact, over half of married women and over a third of married men are in a polygamous relationship.

Finally, many feel that family planning goes against the teaching of Islam and the Koran. The Islamic Sharia Law encourages a pro-natalist attitude and a preference for male children. A womanís age and educational status figure into her attitudes about family because a woman with little education or who marries at an early age is likely to have more children. According to the WHO, in 2004, the birth rate was 4.6. Many West African women still desire to have reproductive freedom and choose to take advantage of family planning methods, such as the pill, which is usually offered free of charge and without a prescription.

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Condom & Birth Control:
Condoms are available at Family Planning clinics. Survey data indicate that contraceptive and condom use is low but is rising in The Gambia. The contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods is about 13 percent (UNFPA, 2001 and Maternal Mortality Survey, 2002). Condom use (for family planning and/or STI/HIV/AIDS prevention) accounts for less than a quarter of modern method use (UNFPA). While condoms are not a popular family planning method, there is growing evidence that condom use is increasing for STI/HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among youth. A survey estimated condom use at 34 percent among 1,000 unmarried youth (NACP, 2001).

Depo - Provera injections are also available. By far the most popular form of birth control is breast feeding, which is effective for about two years. 15% of single females have been pregnant once and over 65% of these pregnancies were unplanned. A legal abortion is attainable, but two doctors must concur in order for a woman to have a therapeutic abortion.

   
   









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