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EDITORIAL: Time to assist BFPA

rhondathompson, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Time to assist BFPA

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SIX DECADES AFTER its establishment no one can deny the success of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA). Had it not been for this non-governmental organisation, this country would hardly have recorded many of the economic and social gains it proudly points to.

In the midst of a national agenda of many big ticket issues being debated by its leaders as to what should be given priority, there is, thankfully, no debate about continued universal access to family planning services. We simply cannot afford to erase the gains made over the years through a cost-effective solution that has improved our standard of living and quality of life.

Barbadians today are much more aware of population issues. With the world’s population forecast by the end of 2015 to be approximately 7.2 billion and Barbados’ 277 000, the demands on the world’s resources, particularly water and food, as well as the impact on forests and plant and animal species are all issues which now capture our attention. Thanks to access to contraception, our young women can delay pregnancy and stay focused on their education and training. They can pursue jobs and focus on a career, having children if and when they choose. The net result for Barbados since the advent of the BFPA has been clear for all to see. Many families have been lifted out of poverty.

Women’s easy access to birth control must be maintained. But greater emphasis must be placed on sustaining the health education programmes,  especially those related to safe sex and the avoidance and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. The countless other projects offered by the BFPA, including combating sexual violence and exploitation, must also be continued. Contrary to some views, the body’s mandate is not about undertaking abortions, but about teaching responsibilities which may not be nurtured either in the home or at school. Importantly, the BFPA is not only for women, but equally for men.

This country has been fortunate that its planned parenthood initiative was not overwhelmed by the religious right and that it has had good leadership continuously and has been given strong political support. It has effectively moved from being purely a family planning provider to being a sexual health care provider. The organisation has maintained high ethical standards, and beneficiaries have not pointed any accusing finger concerning unethical medical procedures. Indeed the BPFA has become a defender of human rights.

While we praise the BFPA for its successes, it is time Barbadians show their gratitude by reaching out to help it financially. In a time of financial cutbacks, whether by the Government or international agencies, this is an opportunity for corporate Barbados and individual citizens to ensure that neither reproductive health nor other BFPA services are put at risk. Let us give the BFPA some tangible support.