The Parliamentary Committee on Health says Malawi needs to adopt a policy that limits the number of children a family can have.
Deputy chairperson of the committee Davie Kadzinja says this will provide a solution to the country’s growing population as similar policies have worked in countries like China.
He said this last week during a tour of sexual reproductive health (SRH) services Population Service International (PSI) Malawi is offering in Ntchisi and Kasungu districts.
Kadzinja said he had sought views of ordinary people on the need for a policy on the number of children couples can have and at both venues people recommended four children per family.
He said the committee had debated the matter before taking it to the people.
Said Kadzinja: “We have been discussing that perhaps Malawi should take that route. As one way of controlling our population, we can have a policy on the number of children like the famous one child policy of China.”
He said although at committee level, there was no consensus on the issue, a majority were in support of the idea.
“All the places we have visited such as Ntchisi and Kasungu, as well as in my constituency, Blantyre Bangwe, people are of the view that four children per family are enough.
“Of course, during the formal discussion on population, some were against the suggestion, saying it is a human rights issue as you cannot dictate the number of children people ought to have,” said Kadzinja.
According to Kasungu District Health Office (DHO) figures, 150 babies are born per month in that district alone.
In his remarks, Traditional Authority Njombwa of Kasungu supported the idea, saying the population increase will hurt the county more in the near future.
“There was no need for such a policy in the past, now times have changed. I discussed this issue with all leaders under me and we believe three or four children are enough for one to give them maximum care,” he said.
Kasungu DHO Lizzie Msowoya also believes Malawi should regulate the number of children per family.
“Looking at statistics of how our population has boomed in the last few years, it is necessary for us to take those measures. We have been doing campaigns but it appears our birth rate is still on the higher side,” she said.
The DHO said such a policy would allow people to provide for their children’s needs.
In his remarks, PSI programmes manager Chifundo Kuyeri said people need to be empowered with correct information before taking drastic measures.
“Let’s invest in education so that people should know the options that we have. We need a multi-sectoral approach as sexual reproductive health issues are cross-cutting; they affect the economy and education, among others,” said Kuyeri.
From 1979 to 2015, China had been following a one-child policy as part of family planning. While the policy allowed many exceptions and ethnic minorities were exempted, those caught violating it faced different punishments, including paying huge fines. n