By JETHRO IBILEKE
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to observe the World Contraception Day, experts have called for urgent action on unwanted and underage pregnancies to check the rising rate of unsafe abortion in the country.
They gave the warning in a statement jointly issued on Wednesday.
The Programme Director of Development Communications Network (Devcoms), Akin Jimoh, noted that the majority of young people in Nigeria are not empowered with quality information to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
Jimoh who posited that “abstinence [from sex] is a priority recommended means for young people, added that a boost in contraceptive prevalence rate will serve as a method to curb population explosion.
“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.
“In reality, 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 said.
He warned that should Nigeria refuse to take action on unwanted and underage pregnancies, the country will continue to have high rate of unsafe abortion.
This is even as he asserts that lack of education about responsible sexuality poses a threat to the lives of the girl child in Nigeria.
He said: “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.”
Similarly, the Youth Program Officer of Nigeria Urban Reproductive Initiative (NURHI 2), Bless-me Ajani, harped on the urgent need to address the numerous barriers and challenges young people face in accessing contraception information and services.
He noted 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.
“As a country, this is a time to prioritize the issues around adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health. 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,” Ajani said.
He however noted that there has been some improvement in the uptake of contraceptives in some parts of the country through the interventions of several agencies, to curb unplanned pregnancy, spacing of children, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), among other benefits.
Speaking in the same vein, the Program Officer (Service Delivery), NURHI 2, Dr. Adeola Duduyemi, explained 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 secure future for all,” Duduyemi said.
September 26 of every year is set aside to commodate World Contraception Day. This year has the theme: “It’s Your Life, It’s Your Responsibility.”