Dr Joseph Akinde, Chairman, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SGON), Lagos chapter, has decried the low uptake of family planning.
Akinde, also the Medical Director, Living Spring Hospital, Ejigbo, a private medical facility in Lagos, spoke to Newsmen on the significant of birth and population control.
Supreme reports that family planning is the practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilisation.
It also reports that family planning is key to slowing unsustainable population growth and resulting negative impacts on the economy, environment and national development efforts.
Akinde said that the wide knowledge of the methods of family planning had not translated to its uptake as many people have not embraced the practice.
The chairman identified stigma, myths and beliefs as impediments to acceptance of family planning methods among Nigerians.
He said that religious connotation, cultural issues and individual perceptions were other contributing factors.
Akinde stressed the need for massive awareness campaign to educate the populace on the importance of family planning method and the need to make it a lifestyle.
According to him, aside preventing unintended pregnancy, family planning /contraception prevents deaths of mothers and children.
He said studies had shown that family planning alone reduced maternal deaths by more than 33 per cent.
“Promotion of family planning and access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples are essential to securing the wellbeing and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.
“But, religious connotation seems to draw us back and cultural issues such as the men not supporting family planning, community misconceptions about family planning, and religious undertone to family planning.
Akinde said that there was need to build enough confidence in people to access quality services needed for family planning.
He suggested that family planning method be resolved and considered as a national priority in order to create room for its full acceptance in the country.
Akinde also recommended that there should be working relationship with the traditional-religious structures in which the people have confidence, trust and would believe and obey.
“This will help to dispel the myths, misconceptions, traditional and religious biases that people have against the use of family planning and contraceptives.
“If we harness their potential, the traditional rulers have a role to play and we should not think that these traditional and cultural structures will not support family planning.
“We have seen eminent traditional rulers who are talking about family planning. We need to bring them in, far more than we have done,” he said.
In order to tackle the challenges of uptake of family planning, Akinde further recommended political commitment backed by adequate and sustained funding of family planning programmes by the government at all levels.
He said this would create the necessary enabling environment that would result in decreasing maternal deaths and morbidity, thereby increasing maternal survival, increase productivity and reduce poverty.
“Family planning plays a major role in improving maternal, newborn and child health.
“Family planning helps to avoid the proven challenges that women face in pregnancy/child birth when they are too young and too old in age and/or when pregnancies are too close and too many.
“Successful family planning programmes improve quality of life while significantly contributing to demographic dividends and national development,” he said.