THE EARTH TIMES/FIELD REPORT
AUGUST 15-31, 1994
For export: A family planning program
By Ashali Varma
Jakarta, Indonesia—Donor agencies and population experts from 10 developing countries have formalized a new initiative that would build on the expertise of developing countries in the field of population and reproductive health and would enhance national and regional cooperation in the South.
The initiative, finalized at an August 2 meeting here, is called the “South-South Partnership in Population and Development,” and is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Indonesian Government.
President Soeharto welcomed the initiative and in his address to the participants said, “It is our firm conviction that through cooperation there will be an increasingly greater number of developing countries that can do a lot of things. This is the best possible means to realize the idea of expanding cooperation that we are aspiring for in this ‘Partners in Population and Development: A South-South Initiative.”’
Indonesia’s success in its Family Planning Movement was recognized in the 1980’s when people from other countries began visiting to learn about it. In 1987, The Family Planning Program referred to as BKKBN decided to establish a more formal arrangement for hosting foreign visitors, to provide them with more organized training.
The International Training Program was created to focus solely on this role. The topics of courses offered for participants range from an overview of the Indonesian Family Planning Program, community participation, information, education, communications and women in family planning and development.
Since 1987, the Center has had 1970 participants from 75 countries.
At a recent training session, family planning workers from 24 countries spoke about their field experiences in Indonesia and the strengths of the Indonesian program. Rakesh Bhatia, of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said, “The best thing here is the way they reach the people through religious leaders. They have been able to reach people at all levels, especially at the grassroots which India has not been able to. They also have an excellent feedback system on how many couples are using contraceptives and how the health and counseling services are working at the village level”.
Bhatia went to explain what he would recommend to Indian authorities from this experiences in Indonesia, “We must create programs that actively involve political leaders and religious heads and we must strengthen the program participation at the community level.
“Even though we have meetings and programs in India, they are not as effective, as there is less involvement and not as much motivation,”
Shah Jahan Khan, also from India, said, “We need to persuade our politicians to have a strong political will toward family planning programs in India.
“I was very impressed with the commitment from the districts heads and how even their wives are involved in promoting family welfare schemes.”
Pakistan’s Yasin was .impressed by the interaction between different departments, “They have a very strong coordination between the different ministries and departments and a commitment from the leaders.
“Community participation and the use of volunteers is very effective here. Religious participation also plays an important role. It should motivate us.
“If this country which is a Muslim country can succeed in family planning, why can’t we in Pakistan?”