Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

How community leaders promote youth access to family planning



To prevent unintended pregnancies especially among sexually active young persons, there should be unhindered access to family planning services across board.

According to Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth, LPAY, "it is important for young people to build contraception into their plans for the future to prevent unplanned pregnancies."

To bridge this gap of access to contraception, adolescents need youth-friendly services and complete, accurate information about abstinence, condoms, and contraception in order to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy.

Data from the National HIV & AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey, NARHS, 2014, the median age for sex debut in Nigeria is 17 years. Available data also shows that there was initiation of sexual intercourse, sometimes at the age of 10. "Most sexually active adolescents do not practice contraception," the NARHS data says.

Investigations show that community leaders’ effort has in great measure helped to promote access to family planning in many areas in Lagos state.

This was confirmed during a field trip to Ifako Ijaiye local government area, by Media Advocacy Working Group, MAWG, in partnership with Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative, PHSAI.

Narrating her experience with an 18 year old girl, Mrs. Shade Yusuf, Community Development Council, CDC member said, "My neigbour's daughter's case was successfully handled when I discovered that she was being uncontrollably promiscuous.

"The fear of having to deal with an unplanned pregnancy led me into taking her to Ashabi Taiwo Primary Healthcare Centre, PHC Ifako Ijaiye LGA for counseling after a discussion with her mother."

Yusuf, who spoke during the trip which had the support of Pathfinder International Nigeria, stressed on why she took the girl to a family planning centre.

She said, "I was afraid of her becoming a victim of the dangerous implications of unprotected sex.

"I am happy she was properly counsellors in the consequences of her actions at the family planning clinic. She was also given counselling on the available family planning programme options."

Yusuf added that the centre is youth-friendly, giving that there is unhindered access to adolescents who visit for any method of their choice.

Giving another experience, Mrs. Taiwo Ayodapo, representing Iju Station, Community Development Association, CDA, recounted of a 22 year old girl was brought by her mother to access family planning at Iju Station PHC.

Ayodapo said the counsellors gave her quality counselling on the various family planning options to choose from.

Collaborating earlier views, Ayodapo confirmed that the youths are well monitored and enjoy free access to family planning commodities in her community.

According to her, family planning services are free and most women have the support of their husbands, adding that some husbands come to the centre with their wives.

Speaking to our correspondent, Alhaja Risikat Salaam, representative from Ajilete CDA, said a committee was set up to monitor family planning services at Ajilete PHC and they meet quarterly.

According to her, they have been involved in social mobilisation and awareness programme by sharing flyers and condoms to residents, adding that it is done quarterly depending on availability of funds.

She confirmed that the health educators have always been proactive in educating the women on family planning. She also attested to the fact that all family planning services are free, adding that even though she has passed child bearing age but members of her Islamic community and her children have testified that family planning is free.

However, Evangelist Samuel Opaleye, a CDA member and a representative of Lonlo Area, said despite the success stories recorded, there are challenges with making family planning accessible to all.

He said that the room been used for family planning in the community is too small just as he called on government to provide a more conducive environment for service provision.

Opaleye said, "family planning programme services in the community have been superb except for Lonlo Area where they are challenges as a result of shortage of resource persons and limited space for consultation. We want government to provide more conducive place for family planning services."

Similarly, at Iju Ogudinmu PHC, Mrs Temitope Sholeye, the treasurer, Ifelodun Ajuwon CDC, said that there is shortage of personnel, noting that only one nurse provides family planning services.

She pointed that as beneficiary of free family planning in the area using the injectables, she is healthy and in good condition, stressing that the youths are often counselled when they come for the service.

Also speaking, Pastor Opajobi Samuel, vice chairman, Ifako Ijaiye LGA, said that consumables and commodities in the LGA are not always available and has prompted some community leaders spending their personal fund to buy consumables.

He however said that the community leaders have been supportive in ensuring family planning services are available, calling on the government to keep up the support to ensuring that there is regular supply of consumables in the LGA.

In his words, chairman, Ifako Ijaiye local government area, Chief Ashimuyi Onifade, commended the state government for making family planning available for all.

He said nobody has the right to collect money for family planning services in his local government.

According to him, "the community women have been meeting and going round to find out if the service is free or not.


"We make flyers to educate people on the need for Family planning during Community Social Awareness programme.

"During the last Awareness campaign (road show), condom was distributed to people we met in the course of the programme. Sometimes, we run short of funds whenever we intend to embark on such campaigns, but the Local Government and other officials have always come to our aids to ensure hitch-free outings from time to time."

Giving details of the family planning units, Onifade said, "Locations where people have access to Family Planning Programme in the community include: Ajilete, Ogundinmu, Obawole, Ashabi Taiwo and Lonlo."

The chairman added that the family planning programme has always featured counseling sessions, medication and distribution of items needed as the occasion requires.


Photo: An artist impression of two families: planned and unplanned. Source: Daily Times


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