Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – A family planning service provider in Grand Bassa County says constant public awareness about the usage of family planning is helping increase the number of females using it in the county.
Misconceptions about the usage of family planning methods have often discouraged women as teenage pregnancy, also caused by unprotected sex, continues to increase in Grand Bassa County.
In an interview with some young women in the county, who prefer anonymity, they said that speculations and misconceptions about family planning “being the main cause of infections” have scared them away from using contraceptives.
They, however, said recent public awareness has encouraged them and they now see it as means of preventing pregnancy while attending school.
Improved awareness by the Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia (PPAL) is making significant interventions, community service providers in the county have also confirmed.
Before the start of PPAL’s awareness, there were at most six female clients attending the service center daily, some days none at all, according to Rose Sekou Flomo, a family planning service provider in Buchanan, the county’s capital.
“For over several months there have been preconceived minds of young girls in Grand Bassa County that the family planning service was a major factor fueling the high infection rate amongst females in the county but the continuous awareness by PPAL has erased that mindset and many school-going girls are now going to the family planning service to prevent themselves from getting pregnant while in school,” Madam Flomo said.
She said her clients have increased in recent weeks due to intense publicity which according to her is “helping erase fear from the minds of the young people”.
“Since PPAL awareness started in Bassa, the number of people coming for the service has increased up to 20 on a daily basis,” she said. “Sometimes I receive up to 30 young girls who come here for the service.”
Teenage Pregnancy Slacks, STI another Challenge
Flomo said the number of teenage pregnancy in the county is slightly reducing due to the willingness of some young people to take family planning, but expressed concern that because many young people are having unsaved sex, there’s an unspecified increase of sexually transmitted infection (STI) amongst youngsters in the county.
“The young people are taking the family planning to be something that can protect them from infection which is causing them to have sex without condoms. Condoms can help reduce the risk of infection,” Flomo said.
The family planning service provider also said though it is a means of preventing young girls from getting pregnant, disappointingly “it is being misused as a tool to carry out their social (unsafe sexual) activities”.
“When you take the family planning it is good to prevent yourself by using condoms during sexual intercourse as a means of getting rid of infections,” she explained to a reporter in the presence of some young clients at the Youth and Sports sub-office in Buchanan City.
“Family planning doesn’t give anyone infection it only help young people not to get pregnant at teenage.”
For some who are willing to go for the service in the county, they claim to also be deterred by misinformation about acquiring it.
“For some of us we can go for the service but the service provider can ask us for $150 (Liberian dollar) which can make us to stay away because we don’t have money,” a young female alleged.
But the family planning service provider at the Youth and Sports sub-office in Buchanan refuted the claims, describing it as “false and misleading”.
“If someone says we can take money from them at this center they are not saying the truth because the family planning service is free of charge at this center,” Flomo said, adding that misconceptions about family planning being the cause of infection for young females have been their fear.
Awareness Promoting Usage
In May of this year, PPAL launched community awareness for youth family planning in the county as a means of increasing the social acceptability of young people and approval for the usage of family planning.
The hosting of several community meetings, partnering with local community youth groups and facilitating local youth listeners promoted the decreased in teenage pregnancy and increased the usage of family planning in the county.
Service providers of contraceptives are hailing the PPAL for the level of awareness they are carrying out in the county and want awareness to continue until every young female know the importance of the service in the county and Liberia at large.
Report by: Elton Wroinbee Tiah.
Editor’s Note: Tiah is also a radio producer at Radio Dukpa based in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. This story was also published in FrontPage Africa newspaper (print Edition).