Family planning is a remedy to maternal mortality- Expert
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am the chairman of Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) in Nigeria which is an umbrella organisation of about 30 international organisations. Our responsibility is to do advocacy at the national level to make sure proper budgeting as released.
In the last fiscal year, there was no money allocated to family planning but we were able to advocate to the government and with the kind intervention of the house of representative especially the committee on Health, 3 million dollars were allocated towards this.
But in the real sense, there is a blueprint to make sure we move contraceptive prevalence rate which is at 10 per cent now o 36 per cent by 2018. That blueprint says we should spend 122 million dollars this year alone. But we put in 3 million dollars. That is why our prevalence rate has remained at 10 per cent for almost ten years. There is no improvement. The government herself has agreed that there is need to invest in family planning.
So, the rest of the money is going to be coming from partners, but the artners alone cannot meet up.
Do you think there is a wide use of contraceptives in Nigeria?
No. Only 10 per cent of women who want to do family planning are using this method. There are also women we want to use family planning but they can get the services. This is about 22 per cent. And family planning happens to be one bullet that can reduce maternal mortality at about 30 per cent.
So, there is no wide use. And reason the family planning is not being used is one; it is not available and a lot of women do not have appropriate knowledge of family planning. They don’t know the key information which seeks to emphasise that family planning would help plan their lives. It also helps you to space your children very well. Again, family planning will help you make sure you have your children within a particular age range.
Any woman or child that start having a baby before the age of 18, there is a very high chance of deaths occurring. The only thing that can reduce those deaths is proper use of contraception. The statistics shows that 70 per cent of women who died in childbirth are girls below the age of 18years because they are having babies earlier than God says they should have. So, most of them die in the process.
The other point is that if a woman didn’t space her children within the minimum of 2 years, the chances of death are very high. And it is only family planning that can help that.
Again, if a woman has four children and now wants to have the fifth one, that pregnancy might be dangerous than the other previous four.
If a woman is approaching 40 years and going to have the first baby, she is also looking for trouble because to have a first pregnancy in the later age of life also comes with a lot of danger. It is also family planning that can help that.
In certain disease conditions, a woman is not expected to carry pregnancy. If she carries it, she will likely die but the woman will be having normal sexual life with partner and the only way to prevent pregnancy is by family planning.
How are you capturing people in the rural areas?
Yes, our work is on the national level but there are other organisations that we work with, who have been working in the rural area to educate women. Some organisations also educate networks of women. We support them with money to advocate and sensitize women in the rural women. We were working with federation of Muslim women in Nigeria. We built capacity for those leaders who in turn impact into the women in their villages.
So, we are educating women to have the power to manage their fertility for their lives because the day a woman dies the husband will marry another wife. And it is on record that if any woman dies and there is a child under five years in that family, it is five times possible for that child to die because the mother is dead.
And that is why Nigeria has one of the high infant mortality rate following the high maternal mortality that we have.
How do you rate the level of awareness of family planning?
It is very low. That is what am saying. Even though some women will say they know about family planning but they don’t really know. The information they have is useless because it does not help them to make a proper decision to help them manage their fertility.
What are you doing to change the orientation of men who think it is only women that go for family planning?
Well, there are different schools of thought that will continue to talk about men involvement in family, because men make a lot of decisions in their houses. But for me, money is scarce, so, if I should invest one million Naira on the issue of family planning, I will invest N800,000:00 in educating women and probably invest only N200,000:00 educating men.
There are some men even though you talk to them from now till tomorrow they won’t listen. But it is that woman who has been properly sensitized that knows that her life is in her own hands.
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