Around 47,000 children were born last year in addition to the general population increase in the country due to unexpected pregnancies caused by an acute shortage of contraceptives, according to a study.
The study said that the total loss caused to sufferers due to a shortage of oral pills, injections and condoms during the period is equivalent to 4,306 million hours in terms of time and Tk 61,353 million in terms of monetary value.
Prof Abul Barakat, chairman of Economics Department of Dhaka University, at a seminar in the city hotel yesterday, presented the findings of the study.
Family Planning Association of Bangladesh (FPAB) and Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) jointly organised the seminar titled 'human and economic impact of shortage/stock-out of reproductive Health supplies in Bangladesh'.
Prof Barakat said that the current population growth of the country is 1.43 percent per year and the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) is 55.8 per cent.
"If we want to achieve the total fertility rate of 2.2 by the year 2010, CPR should be increased to 72 percent," he said.
The study also found that 159,800 unexpected pregnancies were caused by the shortage, stock out or irregular supply of these three methods of contraceptions. Of them, 90,240 pregnancies were lost to menstrual regulations (MR), 22,560 by abortion and 47,000 children were born.
It further revealed that the total number of annual users suffering from stock out, shortage and irregular supply of family planning commodities is 160,585 persons in the country.
Prof Barakat said according to the study, there is acute shortage of field staff for motivation and service delivery and they also lack motivation and skilled-based training.
He made recommendations including a streamline procurement system, promoting local production of contraceptives, empowering family planning at district levels, establishing a sound monitoring system, making use of services from NGOs and strengthening of the family planning programme by using more professional people.
In his speech Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque said population increase is one of the crucial problems of the country. The government is sincere in taking initiatives to address this issue, he said.
"We have already discussed the local production of contraceptive products to tackle unexpected pregnancies caused each year by shortage or to stock out of contraceptives," he said.
The minister also said that there should be more emphasis on encouraging male partners to take part in family planning techniques in the country.
Speaking as a special guest MS Akbar, Chairman of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, said the government should formulate a specific policy on population control as different governments take different policies in this regard, barring the previous initiatives from reaching their goals.
With Meher Afroze Chumki, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee and president of FPAB, in the chair, the seminar was also addressed by Mohammad Abdul Qayyum, director general of Family Planning, Anjali Sen, regional director of IPPF/SARO and Steve Kinzett, senior technical officer of Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition.