As part of activities towards marking the year 2021 World Contraception Day (WCD), the Lagos State Government and a coalition of civil societies – Partnership for Advocacy in Child Health and family Health at Scale (PACFaH@Scale) – advocating improved family planning, on Tuesday, assembled experts and government officials in Lagos to review the state’s commitment to family planning and access to contraception in the state and beyond.
The event, which is themed; Family Planning in a New Lagos: A Catalytic Pillar for Female Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development, is currently holding at the Radisson Blu, a hotel facility in Ikeja, Lagos.
According to the organisers, the programme is also aimed at securing commitments from relevant stakeholders.
Ahead of the event, which is scheduled to commence any moment from now, are relevant stakeholders in the state’s health sector including the permanent secretary of the ministry of health, Olusegun Ogboye, while the PACFaH@Scale team is being led by its project director, Shina Ogunbiyi, a professor.
The PACFaH@Scale is an initiative of the development Research and Project Centre (dRPC), a non-profit organisation that is focused on strengthening both the organisational and technical capacities of civil society organisations across the country.
Marked on September 26 every year, the World Contraception Day (WCD) aims to recognise the right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children.
The WCD was first observed on September 26 in 2007 by 10 international family planning organisations to raise awareness about contraception and to enable couples to make an informed decision regarding starting a family, so that every pregnancy is wanted.
The theme for the 2021 WCD is “Contraception: it’s your life, it’s your responsibility.”
What data says
According to the World Health Organisation, among the 1.9 billion women of reproductive age group (15-49 years) worldwide in 2019, 1.1 billion have a need for family planning. And of this figure, 842 million are using contraceptive methods, and 270 million have an unmet need for contraception.
The global body says that contraceptive use is much lower in developing countries like Africa, and that one in 10 women has an unmet need for family planning.
WHO has also suggested that globally, the number of women using contraceptive methods would increase by 778 million in 2030
Nigeria in focus
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, the Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) for all women currently stands at only 16.6 per cent, the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, states.
By implication, one in four married women aged 15-49 still has an unmet need for modern contraception. This also further indicates that about 15.7 million sexually active women in Nigeria who want to avoid pregnancy, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, will still find it very difficult to do so.
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Lagos increases use of contraception to 21%
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, while welcoming guests and partners to the event said through increased campaign for the use of modern contraceptives, Lagos State has averted 167,000 unintended pregnancies and 51,000 abortions within an unspecified period of time.
According to Mr Abayomi, the state increased the use of contraceptives from 18 per cent in the last year to 21 per cent currently.
He said; “Family planning is also a tool for women empowerment because increasing access to family planning is an investment and that for every dollar spent, three dollars are gained.”
More Lagos women use traditional methods of contraception
The keynote speaker,Adesegun Fatusi, said more women in Lagos use traditional methods of contraception rather than modern contraceptives.
Mr Fatusi, a professor of community medicine and public health and currently the vice-chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, however, commended the government of Lagos State for improving the access to modern contraceptives by 1.38 per cent annually in the last six years.
He called on the government to invest more in family planning in the state, while also suggesting stronger partnerships with private service providers.
Nigeria accounts for 7.5% of global VVF cases
A professor of community medicine and public health, Adesegun Fatusi, has said with statistics of 20,000 new cases of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) being recorded annually in Nigeria, the country accounts for 7.5 per cent of the disease globally.
VVF, a subtype of female urogenital fistula (UGF), is described as an abnormal fistulous tract extending between the bladder and the vagina that allows the continuous involuntary discharge of urine into the vaginal vault.
Mr Fatusi said with adequate investment in family planning, the ugly trend can be reversed. He urged governments at all levels to collaborate and pool resources together to address the challenge.
He said; “If we spend 24.35 dollars on each woman to address issues of family planning, I can assure you that all these challenges will be overcome. And no one will say this small amount is too much to spend on our women.”
In 18 months, Lagos inaugurated four maternal healthcare centres
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, said the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos has inaugurated four maternal healthcare centres in Lagos State within the last 18 months.
He listed the locations to include the densely populated Alimosho, the state’s biggest local government area by population; Epe; Eti-Osa and Badagry area of the state.
He said the state is committed to reducing all female-related medical challenges and complications in the state.
Private sector pledges to digitise healthcare in Lagos
Representatives of the private sector in Lagos State said they are committed to digitising the healthcare sector in the state so that information can be readily made available.
Oluwafemi Olaleye of Sterling Bank said the healthcare sector in Nigeria has major gaps and technology can help to address that.
He said there is an ongoing collaboration among the private sector stakeholders that are involved in healthcare provision in the state to support the government in digitising key areas of healthcare in the state.
In six years, Lagos averts 167,000 unintended pregnancies, 1,100 maternal deaths – Official
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health has said as a result of growing campaign for the adoption of modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR), Lagos State has averted about 167,000 unintended pregnancies, 59,000 abortions and 1,100 maternal deaths between 2013 and 2018.
Mr Abayomi said the statistics stood at about 22.7 per cent in 2013 and 29.1 per cent in 2018.
Speaking further on the effect of family planning on women and national development, Mr Abayomi noted that high fertility rate may hinder women from attaining their full potential and that it affects the infrastructural development of a nation.
He said; “Women who space their births can devote more time to pursue their educational and career aspirations, and, in the long run, accrue more resources. High fertility rates may hinder such opportunities for advancement, increase health risks for women, and lead to deterioration in the quality of life.
“Evidence reveals that for every dollar spent on contraceptive services in developing countries, $2.2 is saved on maternal and newborn care. Developing nations experience a huge burden on their health systems because of growing fertility rates that are not matched with infrastructural development.”
The health commissioner also stated reasons why the private sector needs to engage in family planning programmes, saying the development and health sector goals at national and sub-national levels cannot be attained solely through government resources.
He further urged that for sustainable results, the government needs to take deliberate steps towards creating enabling environment for indigenous private sector investment in Family Planning programming to promote true ownership, reduce over-dependence on donor funding, promote a well-functioning supply chain to ensure uninterrupted stock of commodities and consumables and address other barriers to contraceptive uptake in Lagos State.
He also added that despite the 70 per cent of the modern contraceptives provided by the private sector, the demand for family planning services remain largely unmet in Lagos State, as about 30 per cent of women who want to space their births do not have access to modern contraceptives.
Family Planning can reduce chances of death from pregnancy by 30% -UNFPA
The representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), at the ongoing World Contraception Day celebration in Lagos, Omolaso Omosehin, has said the appropriate use of family planning by women could reduce chances of dying from pregnancy related causes by 30 per cent.
Mr Omosehin said his organisation as the lead agency of the UN for sexual and reproductive health and rights, has the mandate to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every youth’s potential is fulfilled.
He said; “The commemoration of World Contraception Day is to steer all individuals and stakeholders to their responsibilities in improving the availability and utilisation of contraception, which has been proven to have huge economic and health benefits for women, families, communities and nations at large.”
Mr Omasehin emphasised that an investment in family planning would truly transform the economies of households, communities and countries.
He added that family planning has been identified as one of the most cost effective strategies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 1,2,4 and 10, and especially goal 3.
He added that; “Family planning also ensures healthy lives and promotes wellbeing for all at all ages, achieve gender equality, and empower all women and girls by year 2030. Hence, it is a wise choice of investment…”
WCD commemoration apt, timely – AANI-PAS
One of the partners of the Lagos State Government at today’s commemoration of World Contraception Day, Alumni of the National Institute (AANI), a sub grantee of the Partnership for Advocacy in Child Health and family Health at Scale (PACFaH@Scale), has commended the government and other partners for coming together to mark the annual event.
In his goodwill message, the project director of PACFaH@Scale, Shina Ogunbiyi, a professor and retired major general, described the ceremony as apt and timely.
He said; “The AANI-PAS, Lagos, is one of the elite champions of advocacy in the family planning space in Lagos. The commitment by the Lagos State Government for increased budget allocation not only for health but also with respect to family planning is a welcome development.
“We at AANI-PAS will continue to engage the appropriate authorities in our advocacy plans to ensure that the commitment, consistency and continuity in family planning affairs in the state, as enunciated by the first lady of Lagos State today is followed through.”
Lagos to preach family planning using entertainment – Sanwo-Olu
Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, the wife of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, has said the state would adopt entertainment tools to preach the gospel of responsible family planning.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu, a medical doctor, said since people are more at home with entertainment like soap operas and sports, it would not be out of place to “speak the language they understand,” as a way of driving participation.
She added that social media influencers such as celebrities and entertainers will be co-opted in massive media campaigns.
The first lady made this known in her address as a special guest at the 2021 commemoration of World Contraceptive Day held in Lagos.
According to her, “Family planning prevents birth-related complications for both mother and child and has the long-term benefits of empowering women and reducing poverty.”
She also added that women should only have the number of children they can cater for, saying it is an effective way to tackle the challenges triggered by the growing population in the state.
“Families that have the number of children they can afford to train are able to devote more resources to providing them with adequate food, education, clothing, shelter and other necessities,” she said, adding that; “There is no gainsaying that family planning enables women to pursue their educational and career aspirations, acquire more wealth, and in the long run, contribute to socio-economic development of their immediate communities.”
She said, “Despite the benefits of family planning, it is disheartening to know that for many women, the right to decide when or whether to have children is being hindered by lack of access to safe and modern methods of contraceptives.”
World Contraception Day ends in Lagos with closing remarks from Governor’s wife
The wife of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, in her closing remarks at the 2021 World Contraception Day, said user fees for consumables, such as syringes and gloves, have been found to constitute a barrier to family planning uptake, despite free contraceptive methods provided in public health facilities across the state.
She also said the government would intensify efforts to educate women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy without using any form of modern contraception, on the need for and benefits of family planning.
“I, therefore, call on all stakeholders to join forces and chart a course towards effective funding of family planning services in Lagos State. Ladies and gentlemen, as we progress in this event, I implore us to look within and see how we as an organised private sector, institutions, networks, philanthropists, and the media can make a significant difference in the lives of our women and their families,” she said.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the event have pledged to make available the communique drafted after the workshop, saying it would contain the commitments of each of the participating stakeholders towards achieving the family planning targets in the state.
(Live update ends).
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