As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2020 World Contraception Day (WCD), an international organisation has said cultural and religious barriers are major factors hindering progress in sexual and reproductive health in the country.
The Head, Marketing and Communications, Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria (MSION), Ogechi Onuoha, said this at a virtual media conference on Friday. The conference was organised by MISON in conjunction with Love Matters Naija as part of activities to mark the 2020 WCD.
Ms Onuoha listed other barriers hampering reproductive health as opposition by partners, families or communities, educational level and employment status.
She noted that the organisation has been working with religious clerics to sensitise the people on the importance of child spacing and the need to adopt a contraceptive method.
“We have a programme that is going on currently, where religious leaders sensitise their members on the importance of child spacing. We reach out to the audience by giving them the right perspective about sexual and reproductive rights.”
MSION is a global organisation providing contraception services.
World Contraception Day launched in 2007 is celebrated globally every September 26 to improve awareness about contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
The global campaign pushes for better education related to safe and protected sex so that no pregnancy is unplanned or unwanted.
High demand, low supply
MSION noted that there are still 230 million women across the globe with unmet needs for modern contraception demands.
It also said 308,000 women die from pregnancy-related causes every year.
According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) report, about 18.9 per cent of contraceptive demand among married women in Nigeria is still unmet.
Although 35 per cent of married women are demanding for these contraceptives, only 16.2 per cent have access to it.
The organisation lamented that the budget available for family planning is insufficient to bridge the existing gap.
It called on government agencies to ensure that family planning option is made available to every woman who demands for it.
Speaking on the issue, the Country Director, Love Matters Naija, Alu Azege, lamented the low level of information about sexual and reproductive health and rights issues in the country.
She said access to quality contraceptive services and information should be treated as a human right issue.
She admitted that the wide knowledge of family planning methods has not translated to its uptake.
‘’In our society, sex is just not an acceptable topic for conversation. To be silent about sex keeps us ignorant and it is vitally important that we talk openly about sex as a society.
“Religious connotation seems to draw us back and cultural issues such as the men not supporting family planning, community misconceptions about family planning, religious undertone to family planning and also the failure to build enough confidence in the people to access quality services needed for family planning,” she said.