Madagascar: Campaign for Contraception and Family Planning Praised by NGOs

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President Andry Rajoelina has announced a nationwide tour to raise awareness about contraceptive use. Concurrently, this week’s Council of Ministers approved the implementation plan for a four-year family planning promotion program.

The goal is to double the number of contraceptive users within this period, thereby reducing fertility rates and ultimately, poverty in the country. This initiative has been welcomed by family planning advocates, although they remain cautious given past unfulfilled promises.

President Rajoelina is committed to promoting various contraceptive methods, including condoms, contraceptive pills, and implants, throughout Madagascar following the national festivities on June 26. His involvement is seen as a positive step by health sector NGOs, including Médecins du Monde, which is highly active in this area.

Charlotte Berthier, the organization’s representative in Madagascar, commented, “We commend the prioritization of contraception at the highest level of government. It’s crucial. However, it’s equally important that these political and presidential commitments are translated into concrete actions on the ground, especially in rural areas. There needs to be a real availability of family planning supplies, and access to these should be free at the Basic Health Centers (CSBs), which is not always the case today.”

The president’s campaign aims to ensure that contraceptives are offered free of charge, in line with the health ministry’s policy of the past 25 years. Tackling the recurring shortages of contraceptive supplies is a key mission for President Rajoelina. “It will also be crucial that information and messages reach the younger population, especially adolescents and young people, and particularly in schools,” emphasized Berthier.

Since November, a directive from the Ministry of National Education has banned “any demonstration of contraceptive materials” in schools, favoring the promotion of abstinence instead. This poses a significant challenge to the campaign’s success. Madagascar’s national fertility rate stands at 4.3 children per woman, but in the Androy region of the Grand Sud, where the population is especially vulnerable, this figure rises to 8. In contrast, the capital has the lowest rate at 2.9 children per woman.

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