Men’s unwillingness to adhere to use of contraceptives and other family planning methods have been identified as one of the key factors driving the failure of artificial family planning methods and the attendant low Contraceptives Prevalence Rate (CPR) in the state.
Family planning by World Health Organization’s definition is a way of thinking and living that is adopted voluntarily upon the basis of knowledge, attitudes and responsible decisions by individuals and couples to promote the health and welfare of the family group and thus contribute effectively to the social development of the country.
As a pillar of safe motherhood, Family planning is the most cost-effective means of preventing maternal and child mortality and morbidity by reducing the number of unintended, unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, the number of abortions, unsafe abortions and the proportion of births at high risk.
However, in Anambra State, official data from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey shows that the CPR is very low at 17 per cent as at December 2019, despite the national target of 27 per cent, according to the State Coordinator, Family Planning, Bar Stella Ekweozor.
Ekweozor who noted that with this figure, there remains an unmet need of about 10 per cent, attributed the development to the reluctance of the male counterparts to adhere strictly to the dictates of the artificial family planning methods they chose.
“Although Anambra can be said to have improved in its CPR, owing to the fact that it was at 11 per cent in 2013, the state is still far below expectation. Aside the attitude of men to contraceptives, other factors that have hindered the achievement of appreciable CPR in Anambra State include religious and cultural bias, fear of side effects, absence of SBCC materials & job aids, providers bias, myths and misconceptions, poor funding, poor sensitization and awareness creation, poor documentation, lack of partners among others,” she revealed.
The family planning expert said Nigeria is presently facing an imminent population explosion with its attendant challenges that affect the people negatively and maintained that the only way out is through contraceptives and other aspects of family planning.
She, however, pointed out that although it has a lot of benefits, family planning is all about conviction.
“The use of any of the methods of contraceptives is a major solution to population explosion. Also, having the number of children you desire to have when you want to have them, helps prevent unintended unwanted pregnancy that may lead to so many things. The problem we have is not just that of population explosion but also that of the GDP that will match the growing population. Nigeria’s insecurity challenge is closely tied to this population problem because resources are not enough to cater to the people. To avoid giving birth to children that will be a menace to the society in future, we, therefore, need to contain the challenge from the family through the use of contraceptives,” she said.
On the issue of religious bias, Bar Ekweozor said it is wrong for one to reject all methods of family planning because their faith is against it, considering the economic situation on ground.
According to her, “That is why there are many methods from which one can choose. There are many of them including the Natural method, the Artificial Method, Lactation method, Temperature Method, Cycle bits and the scientific method. In Anambra, we are about to roll out what we call the NaProTECHNOLOGY which combines Natural, Procreative and Technology. This does not only help to space out pregnancies but also assists couples having fertility issues to address them. It is a new women’s health science that monitors and maintains a woman’s reproductive and gynaecological health. The achievement of appreciable adoption of contraceptives will help boost the state’s health indices by reducing child and maternal mortality and then boost the state’s CPR.”
She emphasized the need for advocacy and sensitization to engender a better understanding of the concept of family planning by society.
“The unmet need speaks to women of child-bearing age who are unable to take up family planning. There is a need for every woman of reproductive age to be aware of this plan and also for the men to support their wives. This year’s Contraceptives Day celebration says it is your right and responsibility to protect your life. The woman does not need the consent of the man to protect her life. It is her right. It is worrisome that in Anambra, we have only about 6,300 new acceptors of all kinds of family planning methods. This is worrisome due to the fact that statistics show that we have about 1.4 million women of child-bearing age and Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of about 4.7 per cent. If you also consider that 75.5 percent of the total 1636 facilities, both public and private in Anambra, provide family planning services and that the state has been implementing the services since her inception, you will underscore the need for sensitization for our people to take up this initiative,” Ekweozor posited.
She commended Anambra State Government for creating a separate budget line for family planning for 2019 and 2020, after being subjugated under Reproductive Health for many years, but observed that a major challenge now is access to the funds.
“There is a need for prompt disbursement of the funds and government also needs to create an enabling environment that will attract partners to support family planning activities in the state. We know that the government cannot do it alone. Ipas had at some point intervened in the training of personnel but we need more partners. Quality training for Family Planning personnel will ensure that they offer quality services that will encourage others to take up this plan. It can also help demystify the negative thinking about the different methods. While family planning may have side effects, they are not detrimental. As a matter of fact, family planning is an entry point to the discovery of other health conditions. Before administering family planning, you need to check the woman very well to exclude all the health conditions that are contrarily indicated to the particular method she chose. But how will our people know all these, if they are not adequately sensitized?” she queried.