Religious leaders and the media have been called upon to champion the course of family planning in Nigeria just as they were told that an increase in its uptake was pivotal to attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Dr Adenike Jagun gave the call at a stakeholders awareness meeting organised by Pathfinder International in conjunction with Advocacy Network Nigeria in Ibadan.
The project officer, Pathfinder International, stated that an increasing Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate was important to the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, thus the development of productive society.
She described Nigeria’s high maternal and infant mortality as embarrassing, urging that religious leaders, media and other stakeholders stop ignoring Nigeria’s failing health care system.
According to her, “we need to step up to see how more women can access it and government should ensure that it is affordable and accessible. If lesser women are dying, we will have more women contributing to the economy.”
The medical expert decried myths and misconceptions in the society and described them as barriers to modern contraceptive use.
According to her, such sayings that contraceptive can cause serious side effects; permanent infertility, harm the womb or reduce sex or cancer are not true.
“A lot of women say that contraceptive cause serious side effects. The truth is, some can experience side effects like weight gain and irregular periods, but when women are properly counselled about them, they are better prepared to deal with them.
“Also, the only contraceptive that cause permanent infertility are the permanent methods such as vasectomy. Similarly, contraceptives are not designed to cause any damage to the womb.
“Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown an inconsistent increase in the risk for breast, cervical and liver cancers, but reduced risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. However, most people that come down with cancer also have other factors predisposing them to cancer aside contraceptive.
“Likewise, no study has shown a link between contraceptive and increased risky sexual behaviour and promiscuity. If fear of God will not stop promiscuity, nothing will.”
Family Planning Coordinator, Oyo state Ministry of health, Mrs Adeola Awakan said that although Oyo State embraced family planning, availability of consumables for use in family planning services was a major challenge.
Awakan said contraceptive prevalence rate in Oyo state had improved but there is still room for improvement given the state’s unmet contraceptive rate put at 13 per cent.
Shaikh Salahuddeen Busairi, Chairman ANN, in his welcome address described family planning was a catalyst for blissful living, adding that the concept was much more than limiting the number of children or pregnancy.
According to him, “family planning has to become a norm in our society; it should become part of our day to day living. The SDG goals cannot be achieved without family planning.”