Cameroon has become the seventh African country to begin using a program called Calculator 28. The program calculates -- helps to predict – the period when a woman is most fertile. This information can help women avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Belinda Yayin was just 15 years old when she got pregnant last year. She says she was not ready to have a baby or the emotional pain that comes with being an unmarried schoolgirl.
"I don't even want to remember what happened. I gave birth and two days after, I was sent back home with no follow up of what was happening to my child. The child got sick and passed away. I am almost traumatized because of this act."
The World Health Organization says an estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop having children. But it says these women are not using any contraception or method of birth control.
Paul Franck Indjendjet Gondjout is from Gabon. He developed a new tool to help women better understand their bodies and fertility.
"Forty percent of girls and women don't know how to calculate their menstrual cycle. And, also, a third of women have their first babies before they are 18 years old."
He developed the Calculator 28 to help identify ovulation - the fertile time in a woman’s monthly cycle. The application program can be used on a mobile telephone or as part of a set or kit.
"People who use our application have to send a message with the date of last menstruation and the duration of period and they will receive the date of next menstruation, the fertile period and the date of ovulation."
Tumasang Florence is an expert on female reproductive issues. She works at the Yaounde Central Hospital in Cameroon. She says the Calculator 28 can have a big effect in Africa, where there is a great need to give more information about -- and control to -- women over their bodies.
She says Africa has serious family planning problems: a majority of women do not know what a reproductive cycle is. And she says 40 percent of those who do know are unable to remember the last date of their period - leading to unwanted pregnancies.
Calculator 28 is based on a short message or text messaging service. It can also be offered as a kit to women without mobile phones. It shows them how to calculate their reproductive cycle and receive information on their fertile and unsafe periods for sex.
Paul Franck Indjendjet Gondjout says his project is off to a good start. But he says he would like to raise enough money to offer Calculator 28 to women across Africa.
"This appliance is already open [in use] in Gabon, in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and we hope in the near time it will be all over Africa. We need money to create the physical kits to give in the rural area. We need money to give these tools to the population."
Women are not the only ones interested in the program. So are some men.
Eugene Paul Ndama says he did not plan four of his wife's nine pregnancies and he wishes they had such a tool. He says Calculator 28 could be good for many schools and communities, to help young people prevent pregnancy before they are ready to become parents.
Paul Franck Indjendjet Gondjout says more attention should be given to family planning. He notes a United Nations report shows that, without better planning, 40 percent of the two billion children to be born in Africa before 2035 would come from unwanted pregnancies.
I’m Marsha James.
This story came from reporter Moki Edwin Kindzeka in Cameroon. Marsha James wrote it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
calculate - v. to estimate; to get a general idea about the value, size or cost of something
delay – v. to wait until later to do something
conception – n. things that are done to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant
fertility – n. the ability to produce young
traumatize – v. to cause (someone) to become very upset in a way that often leads to serious emotional problems