‘Only 6.5m women use modern methods of contraception in Nigeria’ | The ICIR


Participants at the ANHEJ’s one-day summit on funding family planning and improving maternal and child health by incoming Nigerian leaders in Abuja on Thursday, February 16, 2023

THE former Country Director, IPAS, Ejike Oji, has said only 6.5 million women in Nigeria use modern methods of contraception.

He also said using modern contraceptives in the country prevents over two million unintended pregnancies, nearly a million unsafe abortions and 15,000 maternal deaths.

Oji stated these on Thursday at a one-day summit organised by the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) on the need for the government to raise adequate funds for family planning services and maternal and child health programmes in the country.

The summit, supported by the Partnership for Advocacy In Child and Family Health at Scale ([email protected]), anchored by the Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), was to sensitize politicians seeking elective offices to the imperative of family planning services and maternal and child health.

It had the theme, ‘Raising Vocies for More Funding for Family Planning and Free Maternal Health Services by Incoming Political Leaders’.

Speaking on the dangers of not funding family planning in Nigeria, Oji, the chairman management committee of the Association for Family Planning and a senior special assistant to the Minister of FCT on Health and Hospital Management), said investment in family planning saves lives and boosts nation’s economy.

“Only 6.51 million women use a modern method of contraception in Nigeria. As a result of contraceptive use, 2.28 million unintended pregnancies will be prevented, 816,000 unsafe abortions will be averted, and 15,000 maternal deaths will be averted,” he said.

The United Nations notes that 40 million women are of child-bearing age (15 – 49 years) out of Nigeria’s over 200 million population.

Oji said gross underfunding for family planning services was dangerous because it would result in low family planning programmes and services, increased maternal and child deaths, worsening unemployment and insecurity, and further harm to the country’s economy.

“In Nigeria, mCPR (modern contraceptive prevalent rate) is 12 per cent, CPR (contraceptive prevalent rate) is 17 per cent, while the national mCPR target is 27 per cent.”

Speaking at the event, Co-founder, President and Chief Executive officer of the Association For Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Oladapo Ladipo, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said government at all levels must take the health of mothers and children more seriously.

“Funding for maternal health should be free for every pregnant mother. That is, every pregnant mother should have free antenatal care, free intrapartum and free post-natal care. The reason is very simple. These women are producing the next generation of Nigerians and deserve access to quality and safe health care during their pregnancy.

“I believe if the government is committed, it can mobilize enough resources at the national and sub-national levels, and if not, through our health insurance schemes.”

He also said family planning commodities should be free, and couples should have a number of children they could cater to.

ANHEJ President, Hassan Zaggi, said the association convened the meeting because of the high maternal and child deaths in the country.

“We brought together health experts to raise our voice to alert the incoming government on the magnitude of the situation. Some of these leaders who are seeking election may not be conversant with these troubling indices around maternal and child health. It is our responsibility as the media to bring the issues to the fore so that they will understand and prepare their minds to tackle them when eventually assume office.”

He called on the incoming leaders to consider improving access to family planning commodities and making maternal health services free.

“I call on journalists to ensure that we present these issues as they are so that our incoming leaders will come to terms with the reality that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is estimated at 512 deaths per 100,000 live births, far from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of 70 per 100,000 live births,” he added.

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He’s a good governance and decent society advocate. He’s the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected]

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