Majority of young people in Nigeria are not empowered with quality information to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. As the country commemorates this year’s World Contraception Day with the theme: It’s your life, it’s your responsibility” there is an urgent need to improve awareness of the importance of abstinence as well as contraception to enable young people make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
To boost Contraceptive Prevalence Rate and to also serve as a method to curb population explosion, Development Communications Network (Devcoms) Programme Director Akin Jimoh, says “abstinence is a priority recommended means for young people but in reality for a number of this group the increase in the use of contraception will help curb teenage pregnancies and eliminate a scenario whereby a baby who is supposed to still be under the tutelage of her mother is expecting another baby in her womb”. He asserts that lack of education about responsible sexuality poses a threat to the lives of the girl child in Nigeria.
Should Nigeria refuse to take action on unwanted and underage pregnancies the country will continue to have high rate of unsafe abortion as reported in several studies. The 2018 Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) Abortion Survey Results states that about 4 to 6% of women of reproductive age had a likely abortion in the 12 months prior to the study indicating that 1.8 to 2.7 million abortions occur annually in Nigeria. Family planning allows the woman to rest between pregnancies in order to regain her health and strength and enable her to have a healthy child and thereby reducing the incidence of maternal mortality in Nigeria.
Bless-me Ajani, the Youth Program Officer, NURHI 2, Lagos asserts that “one thing that still echoes very loudly are the numerous barriers and challenges young people face in accessing contraception information and services. As a country, this is a time to prioritize the issues around Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (AYSRH). These issues which are always being discussed year in year out without adequate solutions to address them range from ignorance on the part of the young persons, policy barriers, non-supportive societal environment to judgmental service providers”.
Devcoms Network believes that the use of family planning should be culturally accepted in all parts of the country and taken as a household name within the married and the unmarried to help regulate the population of the country in a way that the resources available to government will be sufficient to provide services to the population at large.
Interestingly, there has been some improvement in the uptake of contraceptives in some parts of the country through the interventions of several agencies including the Nigeria Urban Reproductive Initiative,(NURHI 2) project, Pathfinder International, and several other partners who effortlessly advocate for the use of family planning methods to curb unplanned pregnancy, spacing of children, and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among other benefits .
Dr. Adeola Duduyemi, Program Officer Service Delivery NURHI 2, Lagos explains that “Family Planning promotes the health and welfare of the entire family and in turn the whole community and nation. Family planning is also key to unlocking sustainable development goals. It has a long term benefit of breaking the cycle of poverty among families which transcends generations with a ripple effect across the new global development agenda. Family Planning will allow us to take bold leaps, better life and secured future for all”.
Duduyemi in addition states that, “as a project we support the State Ministry of Health, Health Service Commission and the Primary Health Care Board to implement programs and activities in different thematic areas which include demand generation, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, life planning for adolescents and youths and service delivery all geared towards increasing demand for family planning and to create a society where “supply” and “demand” barriers to family planning are totally eliminated, and family planning becomes a social norm.
Together let’s help young people especially make informed choices about their life and sexual rights.