By Chioma Obinna
The Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu Tuesday called for universal access to family planning services even as she urged women to embrace the services as the socio-economic benefits of family planning lead to female empowerment as well as economic enhancement.
Speaking at the 2021 World Contraceptives Day event, Sanwo-Olu, said that there was no better time to put family planning on the front burner as it ensures a woman has adequate time to achieve her career goals and live healthier life.
She said family planning is an informed decision by an individual or a couple on how many children to have and when to have them and that the practice involves the use of modern contraceptive methods to adequately space pregnancies.
“Family planning prevents birth-related complications for both mother and child and has the long-term benefits of empowering women and reducing poverty. 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.
“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 added that when women space their births effectively, they can recover from the previous birth, take care of themselves and the living child and bond with their children and spouses.
“One effective tool for tackling these problems is for families to have the number of children they can cater for. 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.
“For example, although contraceptive methods are provided free in public health facilities, user fees for consumables such as syringes and gloves have been found to be a barrier to family planning uptake”, the Sanwo-Olu stated.
The State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said the event with the theme, “A new Lagos, Family planning, a catalytic pillar for female empowerment and socio-economic development”, seeks to put Family Planning on the consciousness of citizens and front burner of public discourse.
Abayomi said the 2018 research estimates show the State has averted about 167,000 unintended pregnancies, 59,000 abortions and 1,100 maternal deaths.
“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.”
He said over the years, donors and partners have played significant role in funding, procurement, and distribution of Family Planning commodities in Nigeria and that for sustainable results, deliberate steps must be taken to create enabling environment for indigenous private sector investment in Family Planning programming to promote true ownership, reduce over-dependency 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.
Earlier, the Director Post Pregnancy Planning Project; a project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and implemented by Johnhopkins Centre for Communication Programs, Dr. Taiwo Johnson, noted that all implementing partners under BMGF are working to expand access to family planning information and services as one of the key pillars for human capital development and particularly female empowerment.
“As implementing partners, we support Lagos State Government to implement family planning costed implementation plan which was adapted from the National Family Planning blueprint.
“Such support transcends service delivery, demand generation and advocacy interventions across all tiers of government and the private sector, creating an enabling environment for the provision of voluntary and comprehensive family planning services with the pillars of institutional strengthening wield into every strands of operations for sustainability through robust technical support assistance”.
Johnson added that Lagos State is making strides in achieving the 74 percent target of contraception rate assigned by the Federal Ministry of Health towards achieving the national contraceptive goals.
She however, noted that while a lot has been done in achieving contraception rate, there is still more grounds to be covered especially with regards to the ever growing population of Lagos State, migration from different part of the country, reduction in donor funding, COVID disruption, reduction in national funding for family planning, increasing youth budge and high preponderance of private sector providers that are yet to be exposed to quality family planning information and services.