Monday, January 9, 2012

Problem, Solution & Not-So-Good Remedy

A recent seminar in Kota Kinabalu on Women's Health emphasised the pressing need to promote the use of contraception. The seminar was jointly organised by the Sabah Women's Advisory Council Health Committee and the State Health Department. It is reported that the National Population and Family Development Board would review the National Family Planning Policy, especially the suitability of providing contraceptives to sexually active young persons who are unmarried.

One of the speakers of the seminar, a friend of mine, Dr Helen Lasimbang, stressed on the importance of contraception for prevention of unwanted pregnancies which have caused a lot of social ills such as baby dumping. She went on to elaborate available options of contraceptives.

Yesterday (Sunday), in the opinions column of The Daily Express, a reader opined that "Doc should not encourage contraceptive use among young". Instead, she—I'm assuming a she—suggested that "What the doctor should have stressed, instead of contraceptives, was perhaps instilling into the girls the importance of self respect and loving themselves. They should be taught cultural and religious values that sex is forbidden before marriage."

There are many people in this world who simply refuse to believe that we, humans, are imperfect creatures in many ways. I hate to break it to them, but sometimes teaching cultural and religious values just won't cut it. We fall victims to temptations—the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak, you see.

Some of us can't resist alcohol. Others can't resist food and cigarettes. Others still can't resist facebook and greed for money; and yes, some of us can't resist sex. It's just the way we are; we have many, many weaknesses. That has always been the problem with mankind.

I think it is a romantic idea to expect young people who are quite often victims of raging hormones to refrain from indulging in sex, simply by teaching them cultural and religious values that sex is forbidden before marriage.

When people are addicted to food, no amount of education or warning of illnesses or even dreadful diseases such as diabetes and heart attacks would make them stop eating. Far from it. And even if one succeeds in scaring them off with all these bad consequences due to overeating, it would still be an uphill task to make them stop. Most of them would continue to overeat, until perhaps when they are diagnosed with clogged arteries and their lives are hanging merely by a thread. Then maybe—just maybe—they might stop, though I seriously doubt it. At least not for very long.

Sometimes, when the ideal solution can't help to solve the problem, we have no choice but to fall back on the not-so-good remedy. If, for example, no amount of advice can make me reduce the consumption of high-cholesterol food, thus resulting in elevated cholesterol level in my body, then perhaps the doctor owes the duty to at least fall back on whatever available drugs that can help in controlling or reducing the amount of cholesterol in my body. But by informing me of the availability of cholesterol-lowering drugs, that doesn't mean that the doctor is encouraging me to overeat.

Dr Helen Lasimbang is a gynaecologist, speaking in her capacity as a gynaecologist, and sharing her knowledge on methods of contraception. If we can't stop people from having sex (and I think for the most part we can't) in spite of the teaching of cultural and religious values, then we should at least protect them from unwanted pregnancies in the hope of solving the problem of baby dumping. It is not about encouraging them to have sex; rather, it's about falling back on the not-so-good remedy.

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