Dr. Ejike Oji, is the Chairman, Association for Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria, and GSO Focal Point Person for a Global Initiative 2020 family planning.
In this interview with RAPHAEL EDE, he stresses that family planning can reduce maternal Mortality to 30 percent
Family Planning in Nigeria Family planning in Nigeria has not progressed as much as we expected.
Th is is because for almost 10 to 15 years, we have remained at a contraceptive prevalent rate of about 10 percent without making any move.
Luckily, with all the work we have been doing in our association with government, there seems to be some movement.
Th ere was a mid-term report by track vision 2020, about the contraception prevalent rate in the country, which has moved up from 14 to 20 percent; so there some level of improvement.
Th e Federal Government has done a lot of things to make sure that family planning continues to be something that we pay attention to.
We successfully advocated to them to make family planning free in the country.
Th e government have also gone ahead to make costive implementation plan.
Th is is a plan of action, to make sure that by 2020 Nigeria attain a contraceptive prevalent rate of about 35 percent.
So, what we are doing now is to make sure that we continue that move down to the sub-national level and to local government.
Th is year, Federal Government has promised that the counterpart funding they will bring for family planning in 2018 budget will be $40 million; they use to bring $15m in previous budgets.
Th is shows some level of commitment from government to move forward.
For us in the civil society, we are putting so much pressure not only for more money to be put in family planning, but also to put in a fair, strong and robust accounting mechanism to make sure that the money that is appropriated is released and used for the services.
Family planning is no doubt the key to development.
An analysis was done some years ago and it was found that 70 percent of all maternal deaths are within the age bracket of 18 years and below.
So anything we can do to make sure younger people don’t get pregnant until they are up to 18 and above will further reduce maternal mortality rate up to 50 percent.
Family planning on its own can reduce maternal three main reasons came out; Religion, Culture and misconception.
Most women are told that if they do family planning, they will not be able to have child when they want to.
Some religions will say it is a taboo, while some others will say family planning is an abortion.
Some cultures will also say children come from God, therefore you should not stop them when they want to come.
Th at is why the association for the advancement of family planning, in our last major conference which held last year, decided to bring three major stakeholders to be able to remove all these barriers.
One, we did a pre-conference with the youths, because they are the people that will drive our population to be 400 million by 2025.
So we focused on the youth to make sure that they are able to understand the issue of contraception.
We also did a pre-conference with the women group because when you talk about issue of contraception in Nigeria, it is focused more on the women; most men will not agree to issue of vasectomy which is the one targeted for men.
Also, most men within family confi ne wouldn’t want to use condom.
So you see everything is backed-up by the women.
Th e last and most important one is the interfaith group.
Religion is one thing our people hold in high esteem.
Is it enough to interfere with religious leaders, when you and I know that for instance, the Catholic Church does not believe in modern contraceptives; rather they teach the natural way of family planning? So we decided to bring both the Christians and Muslims clergymen together and had a two day pre-conference that trashed out all the issues that would reduce the maternal mortality rate in the country to the barest minimum.
Maternal mortality rate in Nigeria and Consequences Our maternal mortality rate is about 576 for every 100, 000 life births; this means we loose an average of about 40,000 women every year from maternal mortality related issues.
In Nigeria, Nigeria has one of the issues of high maternal mortality death in the world; in fact we lose more women than any other country except India.
India is about 1.2 billion people and we are just 180 million people now by estimation.