Why we must increase funding for family planning
“Hello Tope, Shade is gone.”
“Which Shade? Gone where?
“She died this morning.”
That was the phone conversation that woke me up one Monday morning about 12years ago. A very sad day indeed!
Shade was my best friend when we were in University of Lagos. A very beautiful, unassuming and intelligent young woman, she had 4 children through Cesarean Section and died with the fifth pregnancy as a result of complications arising from stress among other factors.
According to her husband that called me, she woke up in the morning preparing the kids for school, then she slumped on their three-seater sofa and died.
Haleema was teaching in my children’s school, her last child then was nine years already, then came this unplanned pregnancy which unfortunately claimed her life because of hemorrhage during childbirth.
I had more than five personal experiences of bleeding to death by young women after childbirth.
We need to stop procreating without corresponding planning on how to curb poverty and better feed the nation.
Of course, carrying a child for nine months and going through labour or Cesarean Section is a very tasking and dangerous task. Child care is a serious work and every woman deserves rest and pampering.
According to UN report, estimated population of this country in the coming year 2020 will be 206 million and 411million by 2050, while by 2100, it will be few millions away from the one billion mark, putting Nigeria as the fastest growing population in the world. What a disaster you might ask considering the terrible state of infrastructure and economic indicators of the nation.
And this is why the training workshop recently organised for media practitioners by Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria MSION, in Ibadan-Oyo State, can be described as quite timely.
Speaking at the event, MSION’s Director of Programme Operations, Mr Emmanuel Ajah, called on media practitioners to keep creating awareness and urged federal, states and local governments to make enabling policies truly working as well as prioritise the provision of family planning services, increase uptake of modern contraceptives and affordable quality healthcare delivery in general.
Ajah said that the overall average fertility rate is still very high standing at 5.3 per cent with many multiple pregnancies among our women.
“This is a time bomb that requires urgent attention because of the poverty in the land and lack of basic infrastructural needs like roads, health, education, electricity among others.
It’s great that President Muhammed Buhari revealed that; “We are all aware of the looming demographic potential of our country. By average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN estimates put Nigeria third globally behind only India and China with our projected population at 411 million. This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us.”
We really need to act fast as a nation with over 10.5 million out-of-school-children. MSION is saying that children should be by chance and not by choice.
Access is still a serious issue to many women. Time to embrace family planning is now.
Simply because impending indicators are too frightening with serious hunger, poverty, crime and insecurity in the country.
Governments at all levels must strategically plan to manage the current population explosion by fully embracing family planning.
This we can achieve by increasing funds for family planning. And this is why MSION’s Media Consultant, Mr Emmanuel Ugoji called on media practitioners to keep educating all stakeholders on the numerous benefits of family planning to women, families, communities and the nation as a whole.
Obviously, the two day media training in Ibadan, Oyo State recently is quite enlightening and educative because many changed age-long stereotype.
Available statistics shows that
the country currently has a contraceptive rate of only 12 per cent, with about 88 per cent of Nigerian women not utilising any form of modern contraceptives.
According to Ugoji, 12 per cent rate was low, but can be improved upon with the help of stakeholders, the media and government.
“A family that plans for the number of births it intends to have, will plan for how to give that child the deserved quality of life. Child spacing will not only benefit the family economically, it will also ensure the mother and child are in good health, and the nation maintains the population growth it desires for effective planning.
“We need to create more awareness on modern contraceptives. It would aid family planning, and increase productivity and development for the nation, especially in rural areas.”
While culture, social economic and religious barriers have been signaled as reasons for low modern contraceptive uptake, hence leading to increased population, Ajah said advocacies to major stakeholders were key to addressing the national concerns.
“MSION was at the forefront of expanding universal access to modern contraceptive methods, especially in rural areas and among less privileged populations.”
The Head Marketing and Strategic Communication, MSION, Ogechi Onuoha during her presentation stated that access to safe and voluntary Family Planning is a human right, central to gender equality.
In most developing countries, including Nigeria, some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy were not using safe and effective Family Planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities.
“This threatens their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” she concluded.
“This high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is largely due to high Fertility Rate, FR, unintended pregnancies and low use of contraceptives. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Health, FMOH, has set a modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) target of 27 per cent by 2020. To achieve this, a lot must be done to address the barriers to uptake of modern contraceptive methods.”
“Increased uptake of modern Family Planning services will contribute to averting about 30 per cent of MMR, 25 per cent under five mortality and allow more women to remain in school, get educated and contribute to national development.”
We really need the support of all, including our men to achieve the set target of CPR.
Another challenge we need to tackle is the fact that health matters are still on concurrent list in Nigeria. Meaning that what has been approved at the national level can be handled differently at states.
We really need the support of our men, traditional and religious leaders to overcome some of the religious and cultural norms that discourage the use of modern family planning methods.
In conclusion, having children by choice and not by chance will be in the best interest of all and we must continue to create the needed awareness at every opportunity we have.