Conception and childbearing is the priority of several couples in many African countries, like Nigeria. However, it costs a lot of time, energy, and fund to care for and raise a child. It is much easier if you have the support of your partner and a supportive family.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s high fertility over the last few years has not reduced as expected, despite efforts by international organisation like Pathfinder International to ensure availability, accessibility of family planning commodities, consumables across the country.
Pathfinder International is supporting the Federal Government in providing these interventions in order to achieve the country’s family planning target and other national as well as international goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).
Women who use family planning women are able to time and plan their pregnancies and childbirths and ultimately over 3,000 of them who die from unsafe abortion in Nigeria, annually would be saved.
The interventions by organisation like Pathfinder International is crucial because unsafe abortion contributes to over 30 percent of maternal deaths in the country and Nigeria has an unacceptably high maternal mortality ratio of 451 deaths per 100,000 live births. Embracing family planning will curb preventable deaths of women and girls of reproductive age.
A recent activity carried out in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State by Society for Media Advocacy on Health, Nigeria, supported by Pathfinder International suggests that women preferred having children by choice, not chance.
Mrs. Theresa Abiola, 28, a mother of two, gave birth through Caesarean Section, (CS) and she nearly died due to complications from inadequate pregnancy spacing and during childbirth.
She got pregnant six months after her first child. She didn’t expect it because the doctor warned her that she needs to stay for at least two years before getting pregnant as her first child was through CS.
But, thanks to God that she was able to deliver the second child through CS, after narrowly escaping death.
Following this experience, Mrs. Usman was warned by the doctor to embrace family planning if she loves her life and truly wants to live a healthy and longer life.
After discussing with her husband who supported the idea, she adopted family planning. Today, she is using the tablet and is comfortable with it for now. She goes the extra mile to make sure she maintains the drug routine consumption by using an alarm on every gadget at home to wake up at 10 pm. She plans to go for a long-lasting method after childbearing.
The benefit of using modern contraceptive methods in preventing unplanned pregnancies is non-negotiable as its advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Therefore, it is crucial for women and girls to be empowered with the right information to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
However, socio-cultural and religious practices are barriers to uptake of family planning in some parts of the country, while payment for the services hinders women from accessing contraceptives of their choice.
These barriers lead to decreasing Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) in the country. Though the South shows higher CPR than other zones in the country, there is gap in the use of contraceptives in many regions of the country.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is fourth after Benin Republic with fertility rate of 5.7, Mali – 6.3 and Niger – 7.1.
With over 206 million population, the country ranks seventh worldwide according to United Nations (UN) data and is further estimated to hit over 402 million people in the next 30 years – 2050.
Sadly too, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has shown that the high rate of fertility, a consequence of overpopulation is a major public health crisis.
It is important to create more awareness about the consequences of arrival of children in the home when a couple did not plan for it as this greatly contributes to the country’s increasing maternal mortality. Indeed, Nigerian families will continue to have more children they are not able to cater which has large implications on the economy and social security without family planning.
Growing social problems of kidnapping, Boko Haram, armed banditry, cattle rustling are indications that Nigeria is having increased crime within the country which can be curbed through family planning. When women control the number of children they want using contraceptives, they are able to provide them with good education, good food, and both children and mothers equally enjoy good health.
It has become a public health emergency for governments at all levels to provide adequate budget for family planning in the country. Unless this is done, Nigeria’s alarming fertility rate coupled with high unsafe abortion, maternal death, crime, out of school children rates among others, will continue unabated.
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