KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Only 50 per cent of Malaysian women use contraceptives, according to a 2014 study, the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry told Parliament today.
According to deputy minister Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff, the highest contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) in 2014 was seen in Sarawak (47.1 per cent), followed by Perlis (45.5 per cent), and Perak (30.3 per cent).
During Question Time in Parliament today, she also said that the highest CPR was seen among ethnic Chinese (62.1 per cent), followed by Malays (50.6 per cent), and Indians (46.1 per cent).
“There is not much difference seen in CPR between different education levels among women,” the Rantau Panjang MP told the Dewan Rakyat today.
“CPR is highest among those aged between 35 and 44, as compared to younger ones.”
She was responding to Alor Setar MP Chan Ming Kai, who asked the deputy minister to state the CPR, total fertility rate (TFR), and unmet level for contraception in recent years based on ethnicity, state, education level, age and household income, as well as the measures taken to reduce unplanned pregnancy for the poor and low educated group.
Siti Zailah said that the unmet levels of contraception, according to the internet, was seen highest among ethnic Indians (21.8 per cent), Malays (20.1 per cent), and Chinese (12.1 per cent).
Unmet need for contraception is defined as the percentage of women of reproductive age with an unmet need for family planning. They are the ones who want to stop or delay childbearing, but are not using any method of contraception.
The deputy women, family and community development minister also said that the highest unmet need for contraception was seen highest among women with the education level of secondary school (21.1 per cent), followed by those who completed primary school education (20.1 per cent), and higher education (16.4 per cent).
“We are giving awareness to these families so that they can get information and a high level of awareness for those who do not plan to get pregnant, but to use contraceptive methods instead,” Siti Zailah said.
She said that the ministry has been conducting various programmes, collaborating with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to ensure that these families get the right information on contraception.
Besides that, the Rantau Panjang MP said that the average number of children per family has dropped drastically in Malaysia for the past four decades, from four children per family in the year 1980, followed by three children in the year 2000, and 2.1 children in 2010.
“Based on the projection report in 2019, it shows that the TFR for the country is now at the level of 1.8 for the year 2018,” Siti Zailah said.
Total fertility rate (TFR) refers to the total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her lifetime, if she were subject to the prevailing rate of age-specific fertility in the population. According to the United Nations, TFR of about 2.1 children per woman is considered replacement-level fertility, representing the average number of children a woman would need to have to reproduce herself by bearing a daughter who survives to childbearing age.
As for states in Malaysia, the lowest total fertility rate was seen in Penang (1.3), and highest in Kelantan and Terengganu with TFR of 3.0 and 3.1 respectively.
The highest TFR was seen among the Bumiputera (2.4), followed by Indians (1.3) and Chinese (1.1).
The deputy minister also cited another survey that showed that 40 per cent of men were infertile and 20 per cent of women were infertile. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of couples were infertile, while 10 per cent of them did not know their fertility status.
A 2017 study that was done to investigate the factors affecting fertility found that female employment had reduced fertility rates in Malaysia. The study suggested for the government to design special policies — by restructuring the tax for households with relatively large family sizes, offering child benefits, and providing child bearing assistance for employed women if the government wants to increase Malaysia’s population size.