The National Population Commission has called on religious leaders, traditional rulers and community leaders in Gombe State to take up the challenge of promoting the demand for and utilization of family planning services for the sake of building a healthy and prosperous society.
Speaking to journalists in Gombe to mark World Population Day, the State Director of the commission in Gombe State, Alhaji Usman Shehu Ibrahim, said every woman or girl should have the right to make informed choices and shape their future.
Alhaji Ibrahim also appealed to the Federal, State and Local Governments to invest more in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services to the vast majority of the people.
“Our population remains the greatest assets in our quest for sustainable development. They have status and general wellbeing of our women and the girl-child have the capacity to influence our development process. This capacity is being undermined by their continued exposure to preventable phenomena of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion and early pregnancy, which deny them the pursuit of educational and economic opportunity, all occasioned by lack of access to family planning services,” said Alhaji Ibrahim.
As a measure to attain a sustainable family size to empower people and develop nations, the theme of this year’s World Population Day Celebration is Family Planning, Birth Spacing: Empowering People, Developing Nations.
The focus this year is on family planning because it is considered a life-saving intervention, which prevents unintended pregnancies, which in turn reduces health risks, at childbirth and recourse to unsafe abortions.
It says universal access to voluntary family planning can reduce maternal deaths by a third, reduce child deaths by 20 per cent and reduces the need for abortion, especially unsafe abortion.
The National Population Commission however said that in spite of the benefits of family planning and child spacing, there were still wide unmet needs globally and nationally
It estimates that 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing, but were using any method of contraception and that most of the women with an unmet demand for contraceptive in 69 of poorest countries on earth.
Lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners communities, as well poor and low budgetary provisions and release for family planning commodities and services and lack of logistics consumables, among others are said to be responsible for the continues increase in maternal mortality and poverty in Nigeria, if the trend is not corrected.
The State Director of the commission in Gombe State, Alhaji Usman Shehu Ibrahim, said there was the urgent need to save women and the girl-child from the agonies of unwanted pregnancies and accord them the rightful place in the development process.
“Also having a large army of un-catered-for children because the mothers are denied access to family planning services is neither in the short nor long-term interest of any community. It is my hope that the commemoration of the 2017 World Population Day will help to sensitise the general public on the need to embrace family planning and child spacing and redirect the attention ofstakeholders and policy makers to the need to mobilise resources in order to boost access to family planning information and services,” said Alhaji Ibrahim.
The Maternal Newborn Child Health Coalition in Gombe is calling for the creation of Budget Line for Family Planning in the 2017 Supplementary Budget and in the 2018 Budget, especially in the Ministry of Health, Economic Planning, and Women Affairs and Social Welfare.
The Chairman of the Maternal Newborn Child Health Coalition, Mallam Alhassan Yahya, said in the coalition’s call for action, that there were responsibilities for government and communities to reverse the trend.
“Executive and Legislative arms of government should prioritise financing for improved quality access and utilisation of family planning commodities and services in Gombe State, constant supply of family planning and child survival commodities and services in the state, equal distribution of medically trained health professionals to provide cost-effective Reproductive Maternal, New born child and adolescent health services, especially in the rural areas and hard to reach communities inthe state. Communities to ward off micro-conception and baseless myths about birth control and save ourselves from the disadvantages of untimely pregnancy. Men should play active role in encouraging and supporting their women in family planning uptake, community involvement: advocacy, community mobilisation, men also to involve in family uptake. Family planning is for both men and women,” Mallam Yahya said.
The National Population Commission wants the public to know the implication of rapid population growth and promote the cultivation of attitudes that were consistent with healthy reproductive behaviours for effective managing of population for sustainable development.
It called on journalists to help in sensitising the public on the need to space their births through the utilisation of family planning services.