Lack of contraception, sex education blamed for newborn babies being dumped
Limited access to birth control and the absence of sex education in Samoa are among the factors contributing to shocking recent cases of abandoned newborn babies, the Samoa Family Health Association (S.F.H.A.) has warned.
The Association's Executive Director, Lealaiauloto Liai Iosefo Si'itia, said she was concerned by the discovery of two newborn babies in the past month but said the cases needed to be understood in context of Samoa's limited sexual health and education programmes.
“There’s a lot of surrounding issues around the issue. For example, Samoa has limited access to birth control services, the usage of condoms is very low, and sexual health is not taught in most schools," Lealaiauloto said.
"Comprehensive sexual education still cannot be integrated into the school curriculum, which we have been advocating for.
“We need to also look at their [women’s] mental health status; there are fear and embarrassment issues. There are cultural and traditional aspects to look into, religious beliefs, stigma and discrimination and pride in some families.
“There are also individual mindsets that some people tend to have and would not accept the fact that one is pregnant and needs to give birth to a healthy baby and raise a child.
“The role of men in this situation needs to also be considered. It takes two to get someone to get pregnant.”
Lealaiauloto said Samoa needs to ask why this is happening and get to the root of the problem.
“It’s a really very unfortunate and sad thing to happen, but we cannot condemn the person, whoever dumped the baby in the trash because we don’t know what the real situation is.
"All we know is there was a baby found in the trash; we don’t know who dumped the baby or the notion behind it.
“We need to do something and that something need to be done now. We have noticed over the years that access to birth control and contraceptive services have declined over the years.
“A holistic approach could help, involving Government, private agencies, church and community leaders – people with authority, to come together discuss this issue. It could be a way forward, for possible resolution to address the issue.
“I wish there was something like an adoption agency to prevent such issues.”
Lealaiauloto is advising women to come forward and make use of counselling services.