Decreasing Indonesia’s Fertility Rate From 5.6 to 2.6: Can it Be Reduced to 2.1?

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By: Leilani Hastings, Conference Coordinator, Maternal Health Task Force, Women and Health Initiative

Indonesia is making headlines recently  (NY Times and The Lancet) as it puts further concerted efforts into reducing  the national fertility rate and making  safer births a priority.

In the 1970s, Indonesia’s fertility rate lingered around 5.6.  The government implemented a family planning initiative which eventually lowered the fertility rate to 2.6 in the early 2000s.  Since 2002, the rate has plateaued despite the optimal goal rate of 2.1.  This has spurred the government to reinvigorate their family planning campaign targeting not only women and families, but also health professionals by providing training on family planning contraceptives and the procedures some forms of contraception may require.

In addition to focusing on lowering the fertility rate, the government is also putting an emphasis on safer pregnancies and births following this report by the US National Academy of Sciences and the Indonesian Academy of Sciences.  MDGs 4 and MDG 5 are estimated to not be met by 2015.  As mortality rates for older <5s have decreased faster than that of the neonatal and maternal deaths, more attention is being placed upon mothers and newborns. The emphasis to reduce maternal and newborn mortality will focus on better prenatal care, increasing and improving the training and working conditions for clinicians, and concentrating on infrastructure such as clinics and emergency transportation (with a focus on inter-island emergency travel). These emphases are in seven recommended areas: Facilities, Strategies and Plans, System of Care, Training, Financing, Data, Community Development, and Education and Empowerment.

With Indonesia’s track record of improving family planning from the last four decades, it shows it has the ability to reach its targets for lower fertility rates and lower mortality among mothers and infants.

Read more about preparations for Maternal Health, post-2015 on our blog and lend your voice to the subject by joining the conversation on Twitter—using hashtag #Post2015 or contact us by email.