Nigeria urged to invest in family planning

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Nigerian government has been advised to make population management a national emergency for national growth.

The Country Director of the United Nations Agency for Populations Activities, UNFPA, Diane Keita, made the call at an event to mark the World Population Day, in Abuja.

She said that an investment in population is a wise investment by any nation.

Dr. Keita who was represented by her deputy, Dr. Osaretin Adonri, said that better reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, can bolster economies and contribute to sustainable development by empowering women to complete their education, join the paid labour force, be more productive in their jobs, earn higher incomes and increase savings and investments.

He said that ’In addition, for each additional dollar spent on contraceptive services above the current level, the cost of pregnancy-related care is reduced by $2.30. Investments in family planning help lead to prosperity for all.Family planning, therefore, is critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1, to end poverty. It is also key to achieving other Goals, such as ending hunger as well as promoting good health and gender equality’’.

He also noted that UNFPA has set an ambitious, transformative goal to eliminate all unmet demand for family planning by 2030 and encouraged Nigeria and other stakeholders to help in actualizing the ambition.

’On this World Population Day, we call on all governments and stakeholders to help achieve this goal. UNFPA also calls on the 179 governments that endorsed the programme of Action of the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development to fulfill their commitments to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning. Not only is this a matter of protecting health and rights, but it is also a matter of investing in economic development as well as humanity’s prosperity and progress’’ he said.
The Chairman of Nigeria Population Commission, Dr. Eze Duruiheoma, said that every family should be able to choose the number of children they want and space them accordingly.

“Every individual has the right to live their lives. The right to make choices. But we are pleading that as you make those choices; think of its impact on the society. Our population is growing at an alarming rate and that is something we have to keep an eye on in order not to jeopardize our future,’ he said.

The Chairman also pointed out that if family planning and population management is ignored today, Nigeria might pay a greater price in the future.

In her Keynote paper which highlighted the theme of the 2017 World Population Day, which is : Family Planning, Birth Spacing: Empowering People, Developing Nations, Dr, Mairo Mandara who is the Country director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said that ‘Child Spacing and Family Planning is essential for improving the lives of women and children and preventing maternal mortality’’.

he also said that the knowledge of family planning in Nigeria is impressive but that very few women actually practice it.

Dr, Mandara stated that a person’s ability to plan the timing and size of their family determines the realisation of other life aspirations.

She called for the empowerment of women in Nigeria for greater economic development.

Dr. Mandara added that more women needed to be reached for better planning of families.

Traditional rulers, religious leaders, the youths and women organisations at the event agreed that more sex education and contraceptive use should be encouraged as a means of promoting family planning in Nigeria.