By Sola Ogundipe
Over 6.5 million women now use a modern method of contraception in Nigeria. It is the highest number on record in the country’s history, according to a new report by Family Planning 2020, FP2020.
But while the number of women on modern contraception in Africa’s most populous country has increased, the nation is still the second slowest growing country in West Africa when it comes to the uptake of modern contraception.
However, Nigeria is not among nine countries that are on track to surpass the FP2020 goals set for growth in modern contraceptive use. Countries on track are Mozambique, Chad, Cameroon, Kyrgyz Republic, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Sri Lanka.
The ground-breaking report on family planning in the world’s 69 lowest-income countries shows that globally, more women and girls have access to family planning than ever before.
The report estimates that as a result of modern contraceptive use in the country, over 2.3 million unintended pregnancies have been prevented, and over 800,000 unsafe abortions and 13,000 maternal deaths have been averted in the last year alone.
From the report, while the number of women on modern contraception in Africa’s most populous country has increased, the nation is still the second slowest growing country in West Africa when it comes to the uptake of modern contraception.
The estimated percentage of women with an unmet need for a modern method of contraception (married/in-union) stands at 23.7 percent in 2019.
Launched on the sidelines of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi, FP2020’s latest report is part of the 25-year arc of progress that has lifted hundreds of millions of women and girls since the Cairo Summit in 1994.
Nigeria was part of the first group of countries to commit to the FP2020 partnership when it launched in 2012. Since then, the country has made steady progress toward increased uptake of family planning.
The Nigerian government is working with key stakeholders to address socio-cultural norms to address family planning such as a preference for large families, religious tenets, and women’s lack of decision-making power related to sexual and reproductive health.
The new report shows that 314 million women and girls are now using modern contraception in 69 low-income countries with 53 million additional users in the last seven years, and nine million in 2018
The report notes that governments and donors around the world are recognising the importance of family planning programmes with donor government bi-lateral funding for family planning rising to $1.5 billion in 2018 – the highest level since FP2020 was launched in 2012.
As a result of modern contraceptive use, 119 million unintended pregnancies, 21 million unsafe abortions, and 134,000 maternal deaths were prevented in 2018 alone.
Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of FP2020, said: “The evidence is clear – when you invest in women and girls, the good deed never ends. Barriers are broken and opportunities open up that not only lift women out of poverty but can elevate society and bring about economic gains. No other single change can do more to improve the state of the world.”
She continued, “25 years on from the first ICPD, the family planning movement has gained huge momentum. Yet big challenges remain. With every day that passes, millions are denied the right to choose their own future. As we look ahead to 2030, we must continue to push for progress, build on what works well, and ensure we leave no woman or girl behind.”
With almost 60 percent of its population under the age of 25, Africa is the world’s youngest region. Ensuring that young women and girls have access to family planning is central to the continent’s future development, paving the way for more educated communities, healthier populations, and wealthier nations.
While progress has been significant, FP2020 approaches its deadline year and the initial numeric goal of reaching an additional 120 million women and girls has yet to be realised. The challenge of putting women and girls at the centre of development remains critical.
There are now 926 million women of reproductive age today across the 69 FP2020 countries – 100 million more than there were in 2012.
With this number expected to surpass one billion in 2025, millions of more women will need vital family planning services.
As the global community looks ahead to the post-2020 framework, the importance of putting women and girls at the centre of the development is paramount.
According to FO2020, more work is ahead, and the challenge will be to deepen existing commitments and approaches to ensure that the needs and rights of women and girls around the world are met and respected.
Seven donors increased their funding of family planning in 2018: Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the US.
India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia have the highest levels of domestic government expenditure out of all 69
Family Planning 2020 is a global partnership and works with governments, civil society, multilateral organizations, donors, the private sector, and the research and development community to enable millions of more women to use contraceptives no matter where they live.
An outcome of the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, FP2020’s objective is to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights by 2030, as laid out in Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5.