If there is anything worse than children dying, it is children dying from preventable causes. In sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 9 children die before the age of five; most of them from complications at birth, infections and malnutrition. With sufficient medical care and food, these deaths could be avoided. However, such resources are often unavailable. Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, so fewer children are born whilst the availability of resources remains the same. This means that more children can benefit from access to medical care and food, increasing their chances of survival.
PREVENTING CHILD DEATH AT BIRTH
Most infant deaths can be averted by a midwife, trained to ensure that pregnancies and births are safe. However, only a half of births in sub-Saharan Africa are attended by skilled health personnel, so many children are dying from preventable complications. If women were to use birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancies, there would be fewer children in need of midwife services at any given time. This way, more children could benefit from professional care and survive birth.
BIRTH CONTROL AND CHILD HEALTH
Other infant deaths, such as from infections, can be averted by the use of antibiotics and vaccination. Having enough food also strengthens the child’s health and makes them less likely to die in infanthood. However, families in sub-Saharan Africa that are not using contraception have more children than there is food and medication available for them. If they were to use birth control to only have as many children as they can provide for there would be more resources available for each child and therefore fewer deaths from infections and malnourishment.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTROLLING PREGNANCY
Birth control will not improve healthcare or make more food available. But it can prevent unwanted pregnancies which would mean that the children that are born get the food and the medical care they need to survive. Though birth control is not a solution to high child mortality, it is a remedy which can save children from preventable deaths and create healthier communities.