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Knowledge of family planning methods in Bangladesh, 1969-1979: trends and implications

Knowledge of family planning methods in Bangladesh, 1969-1979: trends and implications

Biology and Society 3(4): 171-179

The changes in levels of knowledge about different contraceptive methods in Bangladesh between 1969-79 were assessed. 2 surveys provided the data: the 1969 National Impact Survey (NIS) of family planning and the 1979 Contraceptive Prevalence Survey (CPS) from Bangladesh. Both surveys were nationally representative and retrospective, containing detailed questions of pregnancy histories, socioeconomic background, family planning knowledge and attitude, and contraceptive practices. The sampling frames for both surveys consisted of all households in Bangladesh from which national probability samples of married women between the ages of 10-50 were selected and stratified by urban-rural residence. Unprompted data were analyzed. Apparently, the National Family Planning Program (NFPP) was successful in communicating general knowledge of family planning among the masses in Bangladesh. In terms of absolute level, the increase in general knowledge of family planning was from 46.3% in 1969 to 82.8% in 1979. With the exception of the oral contraceptive (OC), absolute increase in knowledge of specific family planning methods or a variety of methods was far less than that of general knowledge of family planning. Knowledge of condoms, female sterilization, and male sterilization increased between 1969-79, yet in terms of absolute levels these increases were far less than those of either general knowledge of family planning or knowledge of OCs. The percentages of couples reporting knowledge of the IUD, vaginal methods, rhythm, injection, or induced abortion either decreased or slightly increased between 1969-79. Nearly 40% of couples had knowledge of only 1 method; fewer couples knew of 2 or more methods. There were relative increases in the knowledge of OCs and female sterilization, an 8-fold increase in knowledge of the OC and a 6-fold increase in knowledge of female sterilization between 1969-79. Respondents from the urban areas or those who attended schools were more likely to know about different contraceptive methods. Despite government orders stipulating that each household be visited every month by a family planning worker, face-to-face contact with family planning extension workers continued to be very low. In view of poor field worker performance, the government has made various modifications in the NFPP operation aimed at strengthening information and service delivery programs, yet recent evidence shows their continuing ineffectiveness. The low levels of knowledge about different family planning methods and low level of contact between family planning workers and family planning target couples show that the NFPP, by failing to inform married couples of wider choice of methods, missed many potential new acceptors of family planning methods.

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