10 January 2013

Nigeria: Formulate Family Planning, Childbirth Spacing Policy, FG Urged

Photo: Nyani Quarmyne/UNICEF
A girl and her mother, in Niger.

The Federal Government has been urged to formulate a family planning/child-birth spacing policy. Government was also implored to create budget lines and to release allocated funds for such issues.

The National Assembly was also enjoined to enact laws promoting family planning/child-birth spacing issues.

The recommendations were contained in a position paper issued by the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN) South-west Zone, which was signed by Mr. Adesina Adeduntan. CRUDAN is a faith-based, not-for-profit, Non-Governmental Organisation.

The position paper titled 'Commitment to Family Planning/Childbirth Spacing for Healthy Families and National Development' was based on the body's findings from the programmes it had organised in the last one year with Civil Society and Community Based Organisations.

According to the paper, "Nigeria with a population of over 140 million is blessed with abundant human and material resources. It is the sixth world largest exporter of crude oil. Despite this, it has one of the world's worst developmental indices.

"Recent data reflect the poor state of maternal and child health in the country as they show that Nigeria is losing women and children as a result of high risk pregnancies (pregnancies below age 18 years, above age 34years, birth interval of less than 24 months apart and birth order of 5 and above).

"It is estimated that 52,000 Nigerian women still die every year as a result of pregnancy, delivery or post delivery complications. Out of every 1000 live births, 201 children die before they attain the age of 5 years. The emergence of HIV/AIDS epidemic in the last 15 years has further compounded the situation.

"CRUDAN believes that a commitment to increase the use of Family Planning, FP/Child Birth Spacing (CBS) methods (contraceptives and natural) will significantly contribute to reductions in maternal and child mortality. Also, that the responsibility to improve the health of Nigerians lies with the federal, state, local governments and communities all contributing their quota to ensuring that all men, women and children in Nigeria can live and remain healthy.

"Nigeria is a signatory to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD 1994) and is committed to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) articulated to address most development issues of poverty, poor state of health, education etc, 3 of the 8 goals seek to address maternal and child health and HIV/AIDS.

"To this end CRUDAN posits that Family Planning, FP/Child Birth Spacing, CBS can make valuable contributions to achieving many of the MDGs.

"Although the previous and current programmes are recording successes, a lot still remains to be done as there is still a wide gap between the knowledge and use of Family Planning, FP/Child Birth Spacing, CBS and stoppage of child bearing. Our Maternal Mortality Ratio at 800/100,000 live births and infant mortality 100/1000 remains unacceptably high. 78 per cent of Nigerians are aware of Family Planning, FP/Child Birth Spacing, CBS but only 13 per cent are currently using any method".

To this end, CRUDAN called on policy makers and other relevant stakeholders at all levels to promote and strengthen Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing programmes.

They were also urged to support the capacity building of service providers and the provision of equipment and commodities for Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing; promote the voluntary and informed use of all such methods; include such services in the National Health Insurance Scheme; and promote the integration of Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing with all reproductive health programmes including HIV/AIDS in all matters.

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