Religious inclination and cultural beliefs are holding back service providers in Nigeria from encouraging unmarried young people to prevent unwanted pregnancy through family planning.
Dimos Sakellaridis, Country Director, DKT International, said this on Tuesday in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES against the backdrop of the World Contraception Day.
The Day is usually celebrated on September 26.
Mr. Sakellaridis said many women in Nigeria, especially those who are single, find it difficult accessing family planning kits or having the freedom of choice because family planning providers are generally biased about providing it to them.
“It should be pointed out that in most cases, this stems from the providers’ religious inclination or cultural beliefs. Some healthcare providers are biased and also have limiting perception about family planning,” he said.
“This bias also prevents them from either offering family planning services or make them to give wrong information to women seeking family planning services.”
Mr. Sakellaridis pointed out that a major challenge is that many women have misconceptions about family planning which prevents them from seeking contraception when they have a need for it.
“This and the perception of most of the providers is posing a great challenges on the field throughout Nigeria when detailing commodities to suppliers,” he added.
In a bid to promoting family planning, Nigeria earlier this month launched a new new campaign “Green Dot” to give 7.3 million women access to family planning and close the contraception gap in the country.
The “Green Dot” would serve as the official marker for public and private locations where people can obtain family planning that are safe, affordable and effective.
The aim is to reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality in the country as Nigeria currently ranks one of the highest in maternal mortality rate in the world.
The Minister of Health, Isacc Adewole, at the launch had emphasised the need to radically promote family planning especially among the reproductive age (15- 45) if the country was to prevent demographic explosion which would lead to economic disaster.
In order to achieve effective family planning culture, Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President, during the launch had called on the government to also focus its campaign on youth.
She said most youth do not talk about contraception usage and there is little or no data to know their level of compliance.
Mrs. Saraki said it is a known fact that some youth engage in sex and they too need to have enough knowledge on contraception and where to access it without prejudice or fear of being judged.
According to World Health Organisation, the promotion of family planning and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development in communities.
The health agency said allowing women to choose whether, when, and how many children to have leads to progress on global health goals.
It also helps break the cycle of poverty, and puts families, communities, and countries on a stronger, more prosperous and sustainable path, it said.