Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

Using family planning to improve Nigeria’s maternal and child health

Family pl_an_ni_ng

With the use of any family planning method, maternal and child health indices of any country would improve.





Recent statistics shows that, Nigeria has high maternal mortality rate with 451 women dying annually out of one hundred thousand live births while three thousand women die every year from unsafe abortion.

Experts say that the country’s high maternal ratio would be controlled if women do not give birth by chance, but does so by using any contraceptives of their choice

With contraceptives, women can gain many benefits in areas such as, gender quality and women's health, access to sexual education and higher education, and improvements in maternal and child health.

Family planning also provides other benefits to mother, children, father, and the family. It enables the woman to regain her health after delivery; Gives enough time and opportunity to love and provide attention to her husband and children; Gives more time for her family and own personal advancement.

While for the child, family planning enables the child get all the attention, security, love, and care they deserve.

For the father, it lightens the burden and responsibility in supporting his family; Enables him to give his children their basic needs which is food, shelter, education, and better future; Gives him time for his family and own personal advancement.

A recent field visit to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital by Marie Stopes International, Nigeria, MSION, shows that, more women are aware of the importance of the use of family.

Speaking to our correspondent, Adegoke Adenike from Akpete Health Centre, a petty trader and 36 years of age revealed that she prefers the use of Implanon as it provides the necessary satisfaction of not having an unplanned pregnancy.

Adenike said, "after i gave birth to three children, I visited the health center for family planning. Before then, my husband and I were using condoms which always put me in fear as it may tear. 

" At the health center, I was given an Implanon after the necessary test were carried out. My first child is 8 years, the second is 6 years while the last is 4 years. I have been using the Implant for four years now and it is good. My husband is aware and he is not complaining.

"The Implant is also not giving me issues as I have advised my friends to go for it as well. I am also using this medium to call on women to procure any family method of their choice to avoid unplanned pregnancy," Adenike stated.

She pointed that, family planning has helped her save time and money as she has the number of children she can cater for.

Another family planning user, Mrs Oladejo who is a medical apprentice in Christ Hope Hospital, Ibadan aged 33 said, " I have been using family planning to space my children. I last used the three years implanon from 2015 to 2018. After it expired, I removed it.

"After I gave birth, I didn't want to have another child and my baby was just seven month, so I went back to the implanon. My husband is in support of the family planning method i chose."

In her view, the Head of Facility and Family Planning Coordinator of Akpete and Idun both in Ibadan, Abodunrin Funmilayo said, "some of the advantages of family planning is that, it is economical in the sense that, it enables the family to have enough money to spend on the family and live well."

Spacing the children, according to Funmilayo, also helps the woman to be able to take care of a child per time before giving birth to another and it also of great advantage to the mother's health.

The family planning coordinator said, "so when the woman spaces her children, she will have better health and she will be able to have healthier children.

"According to a saying, with plenty children comes plenty problems. When a woman gives birth every year, she will have no time to rest and recover as recovery is important for the woman as well as the husband as this will also bring peace of mind, not running around looking for money to feed the family."

On her part, the Director of Nursing Services, Ibadan, Oluwakemi Hannah Oshokun stated that, "when women come in for family planning, we counsel them, we enlighten them, giving them the various methods that they can use, they also tell us some of the issue they face and we further educate them on the steps to follow."

She said, part of the complaint received from clients are in the use of Implanon as they complain of spotting while Intrauterine device, IUCD is the most preferred by women.

Oshokun added that, " when the women complain of the spotting, we give them drugs and it stops. We also tell them to come with their husband and we counsel them together for peace to be in the home.

"The youth that came, some do come with their father and he is responsible for their registration."

Commenting, the Director Programme of MSION, Mr Emmanuel Ajah, noted that the demand for contraceptives had increased in the country to 36 per cent, but stressed that cultural and religious barriers were still inhibiting women to access modern family planning services hence the need for more advocacy.

He added; “Contraception and abortion contribute to an unacceptably high Maternal Mortality Ratio,MMR of 451 deaths per 100,000 live births, while unsafe abortion contributes over 30 per cent of maternal deaths in the country.’’ 

He added that if Nigeria fails to invest in family planning, she will continue to have high, "maternal mortality ratio. We will continue to have children we are not able to train, which have large implications for our economy and social security because of children who are not well spaced and not well planned, their behaviours and what they become in the future is actually what we will not be able to account for. 

"If you look at the issues that are happening from Boko Haram to kidnapping, armed banditry, herdsmen attack and all of that, it is telling us that we are having increased crime within the country and we can only curtail that if we have children that are controlled, and we are able to take care of those we have by giving them good education, good food and ensuring that pregnant and nursing mothers are equally healthy."

Ajah said, Nigeria's overall fertility rate on an average is still standing at 5.3 percent, which is very high, adding that the implication is that, Nigeria is still having multiple pregnancies. 

According to him, "there are communities with fertility rates as high as 5.9 percent and six percent in some states. The implication is that a lot of women are still having children by chance and not choice. 

"The country’s high maternal ratio would be controlled if women do not give birth by chance, but does so by using any contraceptives of their choice. 

"Demand for contraceptives has increased in the country to 36 percent, but cultural and religious barriers still inhibits women’s access to modern family planning services, hence the need for more advocacy. Marie Stopes International Nigeria believes that children should be by choice and not by chance. 

"As a nation we need to ask ourselves what we should do is to ensure that women who desire to get family planning get it as at when necessary and when they desire that," Ajah explained.

Also lending her voice, Mrs Ogechi Onuoha, the Head of Marketing and Strategic Communication of MSION, said that access to safe and voluntary family planning was a human right, and central to gender equality and women’s empowerment. 








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