September 26 is marked globally as the World Contraception Day to raise public awareness of family planning and emphasise the role of education about sexual and reproductive health in family life. On this occasion, association “Papardes zieds” has made the following proposal: the state has to find the possibility of financing contraception for families subject to risk at their request. “Papardes zieds” has also launched a video to draw public attention to this problem.
Various crisis situations, low income and insufficient education level, many children, loneliness, problems with physical and mental health, lack of permanent employment and residence, sexual and emotional violence experienced, and addiction are just a few signs featuring social risk situations in which families use to find themselves.
Most often, women are taking on responsibility for their family planning, yet women subject to social risk have limited opportunities for implementing their right to plan the number of children in their families due to the lack of knowledge and unavailability of means of contraception. The proposal of association “Papardes zieds” to provide state-paid contraception to those families at risk, which would want it, has been supported by responsible ministries. Now it is important not to stop and to create an efficient support system in order to provide real assistance to women subject to social risk. This requires both funding and knowledge.
Social workers have the closest contact with women in crisis situations. Their task would be to motivate women to visit a gynaecologist and to choose the most suitable method of contraception. Yet not every social worker has a sufficient level of knowledge about family planning, so they need additional training. Availability of gynaecologists is a significant problem in Latvia, especially in the country’s regions. If Latvia had a well-developed network of midwifes and public health nurses, they could be entrusted with this task, thus relieving the work of gynaecologists, whose number is insufficient.
“There are quite many options to work efficiently with these families. Whatever the decision of responsible bodies would be, our association is ready to participate in implementing the proposed model by offering our expertise of many years,” Dr. psych. Ieva Stokenberga, a board member in “Papardes zieds”, emphasises.
Another problem that needs a solution on the national level is the lack of basic knowledge about contraception and one’s sexual and reproductive health, which is particularly typical of families subject to social risk. Every year situation in this field gets worse, particularly after so called “morality amendments” to the Education law took effect. Influenced by these amendments, an ever-increasing number of teachers prefer not to speak at their lessons about themes concerning reproductive health.