Mullahs help promote birth control

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Registered: 03-09-2001
Mullahs help promote birth control
Thu, 03-04-2010 - 2:06pm

"Mullahs help promote birth control in Afghanistan

By MARGIE MASON (AP) – 2 days ago

Some mullahs in Afghanistan are distributing condoms. Others are quoting the Quran to encourage longer breaks between births. Health experts say contraception is starting to catch on in a country with the world's second highest maternal death rate.

Afghanistan has one of the world's highest fertility rates, averaging more than six babies per woman despite years of war and a severe lack of medical care. Awareness of, and access to, contraceptives remains low among many couples, with UNICEF estimating 10 percent of women using some form of birth control.

But use of the pill, condoms and injected forms of birth control rose to 27 percent over eight months in three rural areas — up to half the woman in one area — once the benefits were explained one-on-one by health workers, according to the report published Monday in Bulletin, the World Health Organization's journal.

"The main take-home point is that for women who do not want to be pregnant now, it can be a double tragedy for her to die from a pregnancy she did not want — especially when we could have helped her," said lead author Dr. Douglas Huber, who conducted the study for U.S.-based nonprofit Management Sciences for Health. "The fastest, cheapest, easiest way to reduce maternal deaths in Afghanistan is with contraception."

Afghanistan's maternal death rate of 1,800 per 100,000 live births is topped only by Sierra Leone worldwide, according to UNICEF. The U.S. rate is 11 per 100,000 births.

Quotes were used from the Quran to promote breast-feeding for two years, while local religious leaders, or mullahs, joined community and health leaders to explain the importance of spacing out births to give moms and babies the best chance at good health.

In total, 37 mullahs endorsed using contraceptives as a way to increase the time between births, some delivering the message during Friday prayers. The mullahs' major concerns centered on safety and infertility, the report said.

"All the mullahs at the community level knew of these things that the Prophet Muhammad himself advised his followers," Huber said. "This was not a hard sell."

Islam, unlike Catholicism, does not fundamentally oppose birth control. Everything from vasectomies to abortions are supported in various parts of the Muslim world.

(artice continues...)

This is wonderful to read. That women are being given their reproductive rights. Women lost much of their freedoms under the fundamentalist rule in this country. This is very encouraging to read...IMO.





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