Namwianga, Zambia

brittany lattimer fam planning 

When we live in a country with more forms of contraceptives than you can count it is hard to imagine that every country does not have the same resources.  When I went to Zambia I never realized how difficult family planning could be for many couples.  Many do not use birth control not because they do not want to, but because it isn’t as easily accessible. In Zambia usually bigger families with five, six, or seven kids is the norm because they do not have many options.  According to an article on Unplanned Pregnancy Statistics by Diana Bocco, the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York estimates that up to 49 percent of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. This includes pregnancies happening both inside marriage (or monogamous relationships) and those happening to single women.  So you can imagine how surprised I was to see this statistic about the United States when we have one of the most progressive health care systems in the world.

In Sub-Saharan Africa,  Niger has the highest percentage of any country in the world, at 233 unplanned pregnancies per every 1,000 women.  It’s very easy to see why there would be so many unplanned pregnancies in other countries.  Many other countries’ health care systems are not as developed as the United States, and they don’t have access to the same resources.  Most people live too far away from clinics to be able to go regularly, and even if they can go, not all clinics are equipped with the right supplies.  Now compare that to the U.S. where there is almost a drug store on every corner where men and women can obtain contraceptives. 

In many areas in Africa, it can be difficult to just get an STD test because of how far they are away from clinics or hospitals.  In the U.S. there are endless possibilities of places where you can get testing done.  Physicians offer these services in addition to the public health department, and if you’re in college most health centers can also perform these services.  Most of us take for granted the ability to be able to jump in the car and drive ten minutes to have these types of services performed.  Majority of people in more rural areas of Africa rely solely on walking as their transportation. 

Also though some STDs are curable, certain ones like HIV/AIDS will be something that you will have to treat for the rest of your life.  Most people in the U.S. do not realize how blessed they are to be able to have access to so many forms of birth control and don’t take full advantage of resources that they have.