Female sterilisation encouraged in Laos

PHOTO: Female sterilisation encouraged in Laos

Women are being encouraged to undergo tubal ligation surgery under a family planning campaign launched by Huaphan provincial Health Department in Laos.

The project, supported by the United Nations Population Fund, offers the permanent birth control operation to women for free.

So far 60 women have benefited from the project, which is due to end later this year.

Department Deputy Director Dr Thongbay Thavisouk said on average women in the province give birth to at least six children.

"This is a problem that needs be addressed," she said. "As we know, if a woman has a lot of children, it can directly impact their own health. In addition, big families can result in poverty because parents don't have time or the necessary resources to care for a large number of children."

Dr Thavisouk said the use of other contraceptive methods, including condoms, hormone injections, the pill, the intrauterine device and the rhythm method, should also be encouraged.

"These days, hormone injections and the pill are popular among women for the purposes of birth control, while the rate of condom use is very low," she said.

According to the 2005 Reproductive Health Survey, the pill and hormone injections were the most popular forms of contraception in Laos, used by 15.9 per cent and 10.6 per cent of women respectively.

The survey found family planning services were more commonly used by well-educated urban women.

Dr Thavisouk said she wanted more funding to campaign for access to family planning for women in rural areas.

"Family planning not only improves the health of mothers and children, it also helps to improve the living conditions of families," she said.