Family Planning research in Solomon Islands

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

By Relmah Harrington

Universal access to family planning has been a priority agenda in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories including the Solomon Islands. Current evidence suggests that the use of contraceptives for family planning can prevent mothers and babies from dying and improve the family’s livelihood. When clients have access to family planning services they are more likely to use contraception or support their spouses to use it.

In Solomon Islands, family planning services are available and provided at most health clinics, however not everyone can access the service. Recent statistics also show low use of contraceptives.

Given this situation, I, as a Solomon Islander midwife and midwifery lecturer, am conducting a PhD research study at James Cook University, Australia to find out how family planning services are being provided at the health clinic level. Of the health clinics selected as partners in this study, I have already worked with an urban government-run service and a rural faith-based family planning clinic.

From September 25th– 29th October 2019, I undertook my first field trip and visited and urban and rural clinic where I collected data from family planning reports and register books. I also interviewed women, men and family planning nurses using semi-structured questions. The Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Division at the Ministry of Health, and the clinic administrators and nurses at the two sites were very supportive and assisted me a lot – a big tangio tumas to them all!

Preliminary findings of this study showed that young people and men do not equally access the services as the married women. Although they may want to know more about family planning and information relating to sexual and reproductive health. Therefore to better understand this phenomena, I hope to expand my study to a third site (a remote setting) at a health centre in Isabel Province to compare family planning services at an urban, rural and remote context in Solomon Islands.

This study will enable me to develop and recommend strategies that come from Solomon Islands by a Solomon Islander for improved family planning service provision in Solomon Islands.

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Photo: Family planning clinics in Solomon Islands, and an example of contraception distribution at an urban clinic.