…says country’s family planning 2020 goal not realisable
By Adeola Badru
A Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Senior Regional Programmatic and Technical Advisor at Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, Prof. Emmanuel Otolorin has observed that the unabated population growth in Nigeria was responsible for the increase in frustrated youths who felt that the country did not care about them.
He made the observation in Ibadan at the weekend, while delivering a lecture at the 1st annual Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin National Reproductive Health Legacy Forum, held at the Otunba Subomi Balogun Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
The Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin 1st annual lecture was being put together by the Academy For Health Development (AHEAD) with the support of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale (PAS).
The don, while speaking on the theme: “Meeting Family Planning 2020 Goal: Whither Nigeria,” stressed that the biggest challenge confronting the country was insecurity created by the frustrated youths turned terrorists, kidnappers and cattle rustlers, adding that these uneducated and unemployed youths are easy targets for radicalisation for political violence and terrorism.
In his words: “Many were abandoned by their parents to fend for themselves on the streets from where they have been recruited to cause mayhem in the country.”
“While the governments at all levels are striving to curb this spate of criminality, our rapid population continues to produce more and more frustrated youths who feel the country does not care about them.”
“Those of us who have been warning for years about this danger is now vindicated by the current happenings in the country,” Prof. Otolorin stated.
Giving the statistics of population growth in the country, the don pointed out that the high population growth rate also has implications for the number of health personnel required in the country.
He said the human resources situation in the health sector was critical for improving the population’s health.
“Let’s examine the number of doctors that would be required just to maintain current levels of health care services. The number of doctors required in 2017 is 72,000. Assuming that the average population per doctor ratio remains constant at about 2,650 persons per doctor, with high population growth continued, the required number of doctors would be more than double to 165,000 by 2050,” he explained.
Delving into the education sector, Prof. Otolorin hinted that the number of primary school students to be educated in the future would directly affect the expenditures required to finance the country’s primary education system.
Just as he opined as the primary student population grows, the total amount that would be spent on primary education needed to increase in order to maintain the current level of service.
“It is a well-known fact that poorly managed rapid population growth has adverse consequences on the socio-economic development of countries. In general, countries with high fertility rate are consistently faced with by unmet demands in every sector of life.”
“For example, over the last three decades, Nigeria has become import-dependent for food supply. In the 2018/2019 agricultural season, Nigeria was the third-highest rice importing country in the entire world next to China (4.5 million metric tons) and the Philippines (2.3 million metric tons).”
“Currently, Nigeria produces only about 2.7 metric tons of rice while consumption is approximately 5.2 million metric tons.”
“By 2050, if the rapid population growth continues, it is estimated that the country’s rice consumption will rise to 11.8 million metric tons while production will be about 3.3 million metric tons,” warning that the gap between production and consumption (8.5 million metric tons) would likely be met by legal or illegal importation that would finally drain the country’s scarce foreign exchange.
As a recipe to the problem of high population growth, Prof, Otolorin, however, advised the government to implement policies that would slow down its rapid population growth rate, if the country expects an improvement in its life expectancy and the quality life of its citizens.
He warned that any delay would worsen the challenges the country faces today, adding that the future of its younger generations would not be assured.
The 1st annual lecture provided an opportunity for academics and friends of late Prof. Osotimehin to converge and chart a veritable course on sustainable ways to the reproductive health system in Nigeria.