The issue of population control will continue to register less success if men are left behind instead of taking a leading role.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ben Phiri said this on Wednesday when he officially opened National Symposium on Population and Development, Malawi whose theme was 'ICPD@25 –Accelerating Malawi’s Promise' held in Lilongwe.
“Malawian men need to be responsible to know their cut off point in bearing children. How can a 69 year-old man explain better that he has a seven year old child in school and was looking for his fees,” he asked.
The Minister said this clearly demonstrates that the issue of family planning is solely left in the hands of women who have been heavily subjected to contraceptive use while men have every right to decide what to do any age.
“We have been promoting the use of contraceptives among women while men have just been passive participants in family planning initiatives and they always find a way to bear child from other women. This is what is contributing to population boom in the country,” the Minister added.
Phiri pointed out that if one man decides to use vasectomy more women would be 'safe' but if you have 20 women on contraceptive that would not translate into population control because other women would be targeted.
The Minister believes if more men would be willing to opt for vasectomy chances are the county’s population growth would reduce drastically.
Phiri observed that the country’s rapid population growth is due to the failure of families to make collective decisions on the number children they want to have.
He said the country is said to be doing very well in the uptake of contraceptives among women which stands at 58 per cent but population growth was still increasing while fertility stands at 4.4 children per woman.
“Malawi registered reduced population growth of two per cent between 1960 and 1980. This helped the economic to flourish since the population was being managed well where exchange rate was stable, inflation rate was low as result of low pressure to the national budget for more financial resources for delivery of essential services,” Phiri recalled.
Country Representative for United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA), Won Young Hong urged the authorities to profile the population size for better planning.
She said there was need to invest more in population issues in order to improve human capacity development which could contribute better in building the nation.
“You can imagine in 1992 the contraceptive uptake was at seven per cent and fertility rate was at 6.7 per cent. This shows that the country has made strives but there is need to do more as the population is still growing,” Mission Director for United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Littleton Tazewell pointed out.