Nigerians, particularly those who live in small communities in rural areas need to appreciate the importance of family planning and embrace it not as a means of reducing the number of children that they have but planning one’s family.
Dr. Habeeb Salami, Associate Director for Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Pathfinder International, while answering questions during the recent event organized by Pathfinder International, which had in attendance several journalists and media advocates in Nigeria, said that Nigerians in various communities must be sensitized on the issue of new developments when it comes to family planning processes.
The Significance of Family Planning
Family planning is probably the most cost-effective, least expensive way to save lives. Despite the fact that family planning is an essential pillar of global peace, prosperity, and environmental sustainability, 225 million women worldwide who want to space or prevent pregnancy do not have the means to do so, and therefore face an increased risk of health complications, poverty, and even death.
The World Health Organisation recommends family planning as a key measure for child spacing, preventing unwanted pregnancies and averting unnecessary death. However, their usage have been largely hindered by cultural and religious beliefs.
In Nigeria, family planning issues come with various misconceptions. However, family heads are encouraged to see family planning as what it is: Planning for the future, not just planning how many children a family wants to have.
There are also religious and cultural issues militating against the success of family planning and the misconception that family planning processes give rise to diseases such as cancer.
According to Dr. Salami, the story right now differs from the issues faced by Nigerians 20, 30 years ago. Of course, there are side effects but these are just as many other drugs have side effects.
“The truth is that family planning methods are just like any other medical methods like any other medicine even paracetamol so they have their side effects. But the side effects is not that it causes cancer or all those things that people talk about. Earlier family planning methods were crude so the side effects were more than those of the methods we have now, said Dr. Salami.
Many Nigerians still fail to see the big picture, which shows tremendous improvement in family planning processes.
Training and Capacity Development
Health practitioners such as nurses and community volunteers are receiving training so that they can embrace best practices when carrying out family planning on patients. This effort drastically reduces the negative side-effects of family planning.
Top on the agenda of health experts in Nigeria is to ensure that communities and individuals get qualitative information about the recent improvements of family planning and why every couple in Nigeria should consider taking one.
At the moment, both federal and state governments in Nigeria are making concerted efforts to give more attention to family planning when creating budgets. This move received primary attention at the London Summit on family Planning Commitments. Health experts hope this will accelerate financial provision for achieving FP2020 Agenda, which summarily will ensure access to high quality contraceptive information, services and supplies.
In 2017, fifty million naira was earmarked in the supplementary budget for the sake family planning projects. This shows an increased interest in the project due to the efforts demonstrated by advocacy groups. Other states in Nigeria also received their own share of funds for family planning projects.
Towards Advance Family Planning Project (AFP) Publicity
Family planning situation and advocacy efforts in Lagos brought on by Pathfinder International had stakeholders and commentators gathered for orientation and sensitization on Advance Family Planning Project (AFP). Pathfinder seeks the help of media practitioners in Nigeria to help lend their voices to the significance of family planning in Nigeria. These will be known as a media advocacy working group.
While addressing the attendees at the media advocacy event for family planning project, Dr. Salami clarified that Pathfinder International had been engaging the media in Lagos for some time now and expressed his optimism that his organization will take more steps further in engaging the media.
Advocacy and Government Intervention
Nigerian government has not had major headways when it comes to finding solutions to health challenges.
“It is good for us to follow through with this commitment. I hope that we will achieve all that we have set out to do. If government is doing all they’re supposed to do, we won’t be here today,” said Dr. Salami.
“Government in Nigeria are not that engaging. Most of what they achieve is through donations and grants. The money given to government goes the way government money goes. Now when donors come in, they don’t give money to governments anymore. They come to us and give us money as we are civil society establishments. The reason is that we keep engaging everyone.
“We are giving donors ideas and now we support government with the money that comes in. We give ideas on what should be done and how to achieve it. Government goes abroad, and make many commitments and come back to Nigeria without delivering solutions.
“In 2012, Government made a promise to provide annual 8.3 million dollars that was supposed to come from Sure-P. That promise was from donors from outside Nigeria. The 8 million dollars is still a dream and Sure-P is dead now, and that’s why we are calling on the media so that together we can achieve our goals,” said Dr. Salami.
Pathfinder International promises to offer the media advocacy group a three-day training in early parts of 2018 in which group members will get a better understanding of how to proceed in making the AFP a success.
For the success of family planning programme in Nigeria, it is best for experts in the healthcare industry to identify main challenges first and devise various means of tackling them.
Reported by Mayowa Adeniran & Edited by Jude Chukwuemeka
MAP News24 is a member of FP Media Advocacy Group, supported by Pathfinder International