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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 10:53 GMT
Whose role is birth control?
contraceptive pills
As family planning programmes increasingly involve more men, exactly what role should they play in Africa?

After years of placing the whole responsibility on the shoulders of women, the trend is now for family planning programmes to involve men.

The choices open to men include wearing a condom or undergoing vasectomy, a form of sterilisation, though most modern contraceptives are for women.

So, as a man, how far is it your responsibility to plan the number of children in your family? Are you prepared to have a vasectomy? Women, what role, if any, do you want your men to play?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

What reasons have Africans to tow the line of the West on birth control?
Chijioke Ochieze, USA
The question of birth control is as old as man. Africans practice birth control differently to the way the West practices. What reasons have Africans to tow the line of the West on birth control? African mothers though illiterate know how to specify their births. I think that suffices for birth control.
Chijioke Ochieze, USA

Lots of men are not properly educated about the disadvantages of having plenty children whom they cannot adequately care for in terms of education, good food and clothing and medical care. This is common among people in the villages who do not believe in birth control. To them children are a gift from God. The irony is that down in the city, men who are well placed and can afford to take care of plenty children always take the option of only having a child or two. Maybe it's all about education.
Andrew Jerome Josiah, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Instead of forcing women to alter their reproductive systems with the pill or forcing men to destroy their fertility by having vasectomies, why don't we encourage both men and women to love and respect each other and their bodies by teaching them about chastity and natural family planning?
B Wilson, Canada

In many African countries like Sierra Leone where basic health care does not trickle down to many rural areas, birth control is more an obligation of the government than it is for the individual. Many women in villages do not have access to the free supply of birth control pills, which could help control their family size.
Jacob Sax Conteh, Virginia, US

Why family planning? If it's for saving the live of the mother then it is the responsibility of both husband and wife. Have we exhausted the oxygen, cultivated all the arable land or are we about to exhaust all the resource God gave us? No to family planning. Let us make as many children as God wishes us to make .They are the real joy of this life.
Hamid Alsharief, Lagos

Some men would rather leave this matter to women, because their sexual organ is too important to mess up with!
Kabiru, Guildford
It is disappointing to see some men worrying about impotence following a vasectomy. They seem to worry about what happens to them and not their partners. What these men do not want to say is that they would rather leave this matter to women, because their sexual organ is too important to mess up with!
Kabiru, Guildford, UK

Since the proportion of men to women in the world is something like 3:1, I think that women should be the ones responsible for birth control. After all men are becoming like endangered species. My view is that if you start having men perform vasectomy, the population of the world will drop drastically because men are needed for the fertilization process as it is their numbers which are declining.
Israel Ambe Ayongwa, Bamenda, Cameroon

Birth control is a woman's responsibility in Africa. It is common knowledge that most African men think of condoms or any other form of birth control as their enemy. In some cases women are not allowed to even suggest condom use for their men. Things need to take a turn for the better. It should be the responsibility of men, women and the government.
Kay, Nigerian in USA

Birth control is the responsibility of three parties: the man, the woman and the government. The government has to make contraceptives available at a low price. Men and women have to be aware that children are not only a pleasure but also a burden.
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco

If you are married and have children, and the woman's health is affected by using birth control pills, then the man should consider other alternatives including a vasectomy. Families should also be encouraged to limit the number of children they have regardless of how much wealth they possess. The myth regarding vasectomies lessening your "manhood" is totally unfounded.
Bob, Soi, Kenya

Vasectomy is definitely out for me! The risks are just too enormous! I could end up being impotent or worse, not being able to function!!! I think the responsibility for family planning rests on the shoulders of both husband and wife and either condoms or other birth control methods can be used. In the final analysis however, I as the man make the final decision on the timing and methodology.
Nasiru M Bello, Kaduna, Nigeria

Birth Control should be the responsibility of the man and his partner. Education and government initiatives are all well and good but if the man does not want children then he should either trust his partner to respect his wishes or take action himself and vice versa.
Adam, UK

There should be tablets for men
E N Mazhetese, Zimbabwe
There should be tablets for men, condoms, vasectomy and abstinence. If scientists could develop tablets for women so they should be able to do the same for men. Knowing all scientific education was geared towards men in all societies so it should change hands now.
E N Mazhetese, Zimbabwe

Africa does not need birth control. There is plenty of space for everyone. This concept is for the crowded western societies. Zambia, a country three times the size of England has only 10 million people; you call that over or under population? It is under population period! On top of that there are lots of deaths in Africa. Africans must have as many children as they wish.
Osward Bemba, London

Vasectomy is dangerously extreme. Family planning must be cautiously considered before one embarks on it. When I was growing up in Uromi Nigeria, I saw men who had over thirty children and all the children were well cared for. I have seen too from experience, that raising a happy and successful family, has little or nothing to do with wealth or poverty.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, USA

Uncontrolled birth is clearly the result of grinding poverty, poor healthcare and illiteracy. Whose responsibility? Governments', of course. Through a combination of measures such as improved healthcare, poverty alleviation and educational opportunities, people would no longer need so many children. Indeed, with increased job opportunities, the likelihood of staying at home to reproduce becomes significantly reduced. And, if all else fails, education remains the ultimate empowerment tool, because it enables people to make informed choices.
UE, UK/Nigeria


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