Omas Bulan Samosir: Availability of Contraceptive Methods and Services during the Covid-19 Pandemic is an Important Issue to Prevent an Increase in Birth Rates


Omas Bulan Samosir: Availability of Contraceptive Methods and Services during the Covid-19 Pandemic is an Important Issue to Prevent an Increase in Birth Rates

Jakarta – The COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to boost birth rates in Indonesia. This prediction is based on the condition of independent isolation, which makes people spend more time at home with their families, as well as a slowdown in the penetration of the Family Planning (KB) program. However, the theory of the surge in births due to the pandemic is not entirely correct. Senior Researcher at the Demographic Institute of FEB UI Omas Bulan Samosir explained that there are a number of factors in a pandemic situation that can actually reduce pregnancy rates.

Omas explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disturbances or disruption towards a number of aspects in delivery. The rise of fear and concern over the transmission of COVID-19, said Omas, is one of the things that can reduce human reproductive power. In addition, the decrease in income and the loss of job creates psychological pressure which also reduces reproductive capacity.

“For women, especially mothers, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their activities. They become busier, especially if they have to work from home (WFH). They have to take care of their families, do household chores, and carry out their social and family affairs. In this situation, the time and energy to reproduce is limited,” explained Omas in a written statement, Tuesday (28/7/2020).

The economic downturn and the strict application of health protocols have led to a tendency for families who are delaying pregnancy to prevent pregnancy. Meanwhile, families who are already planning to conceive, choose to delay.

Omas said that the condition of the COVID-19 pandemic was different from the post-war situation in the 1960s. At that time, Omas explained further, there was an explosion in the number of births in Indonesia, which was triggered by political stability following the war for independence. Also, the government at that time has not initiated any family planning program.

In her opinion, the phenomenon of pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic is more or less similar to the 1997-1998 monetary crisis. Financial problems affected public psychology that resulted in lower fertility. In addition, during this period, the Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) as a government agency, played a role in the implementation of the family planning program to maintain the birth rate level during difficult times.

“There is a tendency to postpone marriage during the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby shortening the period where women are married and reducing births. In addition, WFH allows breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed their babies more intensively, lengthening the infertile period after giving birth and reducing births,” said Omas.

Omas emphasized that the availability of short-term contraceptives, namely pills and injections, must be considered to control birth rate. Empowerment of technology and information is also important to make it easier for people to get access to information, services and contraceptive tools.

“Similar to the era of monetary crisis, the BKKBN must also increase its role to prevent the increase of birth rate during the COVID-19 pandemic by striving to increase the fulfillment of family planning needs. Thus, the birth rate will continue to fall despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” Omas concluded.

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