Pitit se rìches malere [Children are the wealth of the poor]: The Influence of Gender and Power on Choice and Uptake of Long Acting Contraceptives
Background: Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Despite the fact that Haiti has received twice as much family planning assistance as any other country in the western hemisphere, the unmet need for contraception remains particularly high. Our hypothesis is that unsuccessful efforts of family planning programs may be related to a misconstrued understanding of the complex role of gender in relationships and community in Haiti. This manuscript is one of four parts of a study that intends to examine some of these issues with a particular focus on the influence of uptake and adherence to long acting contraceptive (LAC) methods.
Methods: We conducted a three-month community-based qualitative assessment through 20 in-depth interviews in Fondwa, Haiti. Participants were divided into 4 groups of five: female users, female non-users, men and key community stakeholders.
Results: Based on the qualitative interviews, we found that main barriers included lack of access to family planning education and services and concerns regarding side effects and health risks, especially related to menstrual disruption and fears of infertility. Women have a constant pressure to remain fertile and bear children, due not only to social but also economic needs. As relationships are conceived as means for economic provision, the likelihood of uptake of irreversible methods (vasectomy and tubal ligation) was restricted by loss of fertility. Consequently, the discourse of family planning, though self-recognized in their favor, assumes women can afford not to bear children. This assumption should be questioned given the complexities of the other social determinants at play, all which affect the reproductive decisions made by Haitians.
Conclusions: Overall, our study indicated awareness surrounding contraception in the Haitian Fondwa community. Combining the substantial impact of birth spacing with the elevated yet unmet need for contraceptives in the area, it is necessary to address the intricacies of gender issues in order to implement successful programing. In Haiti not being able to bear a child poses a threat to economic and social survival, possibly explaining a dimension of the low uptake of LACs in the region, even when made available. For this reason, we believe IUDs (Intrauterine Devices) provide a suitable alternative, allowing the couple to comprehend all of the factors involved in decision making, thus decreasing the imbalances of power and knowledge prior to considering an irreversible alternative.
Long acting contraceptives
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