Samoa PM: Family Planning ‘Interfering’ With Population Growth

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Tuilaepa says ‘Samoa needs more people to work the land’

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 8, 2015) – Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has criticised the idea of family planning, saying it is "interfering" with population growth.

The decision by parents to have fewer children is counterproductive because Samoa needs more people to work the land.

Tuilaepa made the point during a press conference where he said birth control is not needed in Samoa.

"I’ve heard them say that the reason for this is because some parents can’t afford to care for (too many) children," Tuilaepa said.

"That should be said about countries overseas where it is cold but for us, we are used to running around with just a piece of lavalava from the morning until night."

Tuilaepa said Samoa’s stagnant population is not helping development.

"Today, our economy has grown and yet you see couples who are well employed having only one or two children," he said.

Recalling the past, the Prime Minister said that in those days, people survived on palusami from Monday to Saturday.

"Now our economy is strong but families are having fewer children."

Tuilaepa reminded about China’s one child policy. He said China is starting to regret the policy since the population of India has skyrocketed while the Chinese population has remained the same.

"So they are also moving to change it." Back in Samoa, Tuilaepa said hundreds of Samoans have migrated overseas and this has created a gap. He said the grass in many villages has overgrown because there are not enough people to cut it.

The Prime Minister also referred to the Bible.

"The only thing that is mentioned in the Bible is a blessing upon Abraham where he was to be fruitful and multiply so that his children will be as many as the stars and the sand on the beach," said Tuilaepa. "I have not found in the Bible anything that says one child is enough."

Contacted for a comment, the Executive Director of the Samoa Family Health Association, Liai Si’itia said Tuilaepa’s comments are his own views.

But she maintained that family planning is essential for Samoa.

"Family planning is a programme that assists mothers in terms of spacing one pregnancy from another," said Mrs. Si’itia.

"The decision is made by couples on their own free will. Family planning does not stop a mother from having children, in fact the programme’s main aim is to space pregnancies to prepare a mother for another pregnancy."

The Executive Director added that family planning prevents cases of unwanted pregnancies and makes sure that each child is well looked after. "One important area (of the programme) is to make sure that children are well looked after and healthy," she said. "We’ve had cases and reports from Health where babies suffer from malnutrition and there is also unwanted and unplanned pregnancies."

In May last year, the Ministry of Health issued a public health alert that "Diarrhea and Malnutrition were increasing" after four babies died and 19 more were seriously ill.

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