Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baseline Study: Family Planning Among Burmese Refugees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



WHO ARE WE?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) leads and coordinates international action
to protect refugees and their rights worldwide.The Women’s Refugee Commission is an advocacy
organization based in New York, United States (U.S.).It advocates for changes in laws, policies and programs
to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and
young people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) isa U.S. government agency. The CDC has a Division of Reproductive Health that addresses the reproductive health of refugees and internally displaced persons in emergency and post-emergency settings.

FAMILY PLANNING AND REFUGEES

Family planning is the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and have their desired number of children. It is also the ability for them to choose the space between their children through use of contraceptive methods. Under international human rights law, access to family planning is a human right. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) says all individuals and couples have the “right to decide on the number, spacing and timing of children.” The Programme of Action from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development also notes the right of couples and individuals “to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so.”

WHY DID WE COME TO KUALA LUMPUR?

We visited Malaysia to examine the extent to which Burmese refugees use family planning services in Kuala
Lumpur. We wanted to learn about what the Burmese people think about family planning and whether they
are able to obtain contraceptives; how many people use them; and what family planning services are available
to them in health facilities.

WHAT DID WE DO DURING OUR VISIT?

One member of the Women’s Refugee Commission visited Kuala Lumpur for eight weeks in June and July
2011. She and a team of 8 community members interviewed 422 women of reproductive age (15-49
years). They also met with 64 men, women, and adolescent girls and boys in group discussions, and interviewed refugee community leaders to learn about their thoughts on family planning. They also visited three
health facilities and interviewed providers about the services they offer. By listening to people in Kuala Lumpur, we learned directly about their thoughts and experiences. We are grateful to have met with them and for their permission to let us share the information and stories in a responsible way.

WHAT DID WE LEARN DURING OUR VISIT?

We learned that 42.2% of women of reproductive age currently use a method of contraception; 32.7%
of Muslim women, and 65.9% of Christian women. The most commonly used methods of family planning
are oral contraceptive pills, pills a woman takes every day; withdrawal, a method by which the man removes
his penis before ejaculation; and the male condom, a method used by men. Most people are aware of the benefits of spacing births, including the health benefits to the mother, the economic benefits of raising fewer children, and the desire to wait to have children because of the more difficult living situation
in Malaysia. While most community members have heard of family planning, we learned that community members do not know a lot about different methods of contraception and their side effects. While family planning services are mostly good at health clinics in Kuala Lumpur, we learned that access to theclinics is difficult for many members of the community. We also learned that the community needs more information about where to get services.

WHAT WILL WE DO NOW?

The Women’s Refugee Commission and UNHCR will share these findings and recommendations to improve
family planning services for Burmese refugees. Some of the recommendations are:


Hold training and find a way to supervise the community health workersnity health workers, community health coordinators and peer educators. Community members like to get information from these people, but they need more knowledge so they can be more effective and communicate where services are available to the community.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORK?

To learn more about family planning in Kuala Lumpur,
go to:
Buddhist Tzu-Chi Free Clinic:
221, 4th Floor
Wisma LTS, Jalan Pudu
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.2142.1567

Selangor/ WP Family
Planning Association:

22M, Jalan Sungai Besi
57100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.9222.1858

2B, Lorong Syed Putra Kiri
Off Jalan Syed Putra Kiri
50460 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.2274.3489
35-2-1, Jalan 3/50
Diamond Square
Off Jalan Gombak
53000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.4021.9103

Klinik Kesihatan Ibu & Anak
(Mother and Child Health Clinic, Ministry of Health):
Jalan Hang Tuah
55200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03.9221.4445

Or contact Chun Ting Wong, Individual Assistance Department,
UNHCR Malaysia, at +603.2141.1322.

To learn more about the Women’s Refugee Commission’s
advocacy on behalf of displaced women, children
and youth, visit www.womensrefugeecommission.org or contact us at info@wrcommission.org.

This report was written by Erin McCoy.

Source : <http://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/resources/doc_download/790-baseline-study-family-planning-among-burmese-refugees-in-malaysia>