Antananarivo, 12 July 2022 (TDI): On World Population Day, USAID Madagascar applauded the journalist, Amiko Philberte, for her role in helping women and couples in Madagascar in understanding family planning and reproduction health rights under a recently amended law.

Amiko Philberte has been working as a journalist in Madagascar for 20 years. She is responsible for providing reports on reproduction health issues and family planning, more recently as a part of USAID’s ongoing collaboration with journalists in Madagascar to increase community awareness of expanded family planning access.

Philberte has been assisting members of her community in obtaining family planning services and living healthier lifestyles, first as a radio host and then as a peer educator and journalist.

In addition, she has recently concentrated her reporting for Radio Antsivabe on the rights granted to women and girls in Madagascar under a new national family planning and reproductive health law.

Reproductive Health and Family Planning law

Madagascar is a country with a high fertility rate. In 2018, the president of Madagascar signed a Reproductive Health and Family Planning bill into law. This law allows for equitable access to reproductive health and family planning services and goods.

USAID-trained journalists ensure that the families in Madagascar know about the law. Subsequently, newspapers, radio, television, and social media are used to spread awareness about the issues of excessive population.

Moreover, journalists like Philberte help people learn about the foundations of family planning and healthy reproduction, as well as how crucial access to these services is for the growth of the state.

Benefits of the law

The journalists attended a neighborhood family planning clinic as part of their training to practice conducting interviews and writing stories. The waiting rooms they discovered were nothing like the waiting rooms they had encountered in the past. Commenting on this, Philberte said, “I can see and feel the impacts of this law in my community and on those around me.”

Eventually, the benefits of voluntary family planning became clear in 2019, a year after the new law went into force, and Philberte and her colleagues started covering it.

They noted that compared to 2017, the year before the law took effect, Madagascar saved almost 100,000 unwanted pregnancies and approximately 300 maternal deaths that year.

Furthermore, she stated, “I am proud of being a family planning and reproductive health journalist, when I meet a pregnant mother with a child in her arms, I take time to talk to her and advise her on [family planning] and to go to [the] basic health center or community health volunteers, but also to inform her that no one has the right to stop women from using family planning because there is [now] a law that protects us.”