By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
In a bid to bridge the access gaps for young people, experts have tasked stakeholders with the removal of socio-cultural, economic and other barriers hindering the uptake and use of contraceptives and family planning services in the country.
They made the call during a programme tagged: ‘Fish Bowl Discussion’ organised by Pathfinder International to commemorate the 2022 World Contraception Day in Abuja Weekend.
Speaking at the event, Pathfinder International’s Media and Communications Officer, Mr Bayo Ewuola, said it is also necessary to improve young people’s access to accurate information about contraceptives, noting that it would reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
According to him, World Contraception Day is centred on improving awareness and access to contraceptives, especially in the healthcare centres, in order to enable young people to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Ewuola stressed that young people deserve access to quality and accurate information on safe, effective, affordable, and acceptable contraception of choice.
He said, “We all know that there are gaps that exist in young people’s access to contraceptive commodities. Some of the gaps that exist include (service) providers’ bias, because when young people try to access services, we see some family planning providers being judgmental and asking young people why they are accessing the services
“Sometimes, there is shortage of commodities at the healthcare facilities, and one of the things Pathfinder is doing with the Advance Family Planning project is to ensure that these commodities are made available at any time through adequate funding for family planning because we believe that when the government releases funding to procure commodities, the facilities are able to procure these commodities to young people, and other community members.
“No matter how one may wish to twist the narrative, young people are sexually active. So, it is better we put measures in place to ensure they don’t contract HIV and AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.”
Also speaking, the Family Planning Coordinator, Bwari Area Council, Mrs Kate Pelemo, identified poor attitude of health workers, fear of family members and relatives, location of healthcare facilities, and poverty as other barriers to the uptake of the services by young people.
“In Nigeria, there is a low level of access to contraceptives among young people. Many of the youths do not make use of family planning services.
“There are still a number of factors that they point at as reasons for not accessing family planning services at healthcare centres which include; long distances of sources, poor attitude and services of healthcare workers, limited knowledge and skills of providers, fear of meeting a family or relative at the facilities and cost, among others,” she added.
On his part, Bright Iyiola of the Youth Friendly Clinic explained that social discrimination and stigma are still major factors fueling contraceptive access gaps for young people in Nigeria.
For Eunice Sharia, a community advocate said religious belief was one of the challenges to uptake of family planning services by youths in community settings.
She, therefore, stressed the need for stakeholders to develop strategies that target religious and decision-makers in the communities through timely engagements, saying this will go a long way in overcoming the barrier.
Above all, the discussants recommended a multi-dimensional approach to remove the identified barriers and address the challenges facing the use of contraceptives and the uptake of other family planning services by young people.
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