Family planning is a common problem with developing countries due to low uptake of modern contraception as this is a major cause of geometric increase in population.
One of the ways the population can be controlled is through the use of birth control using modern contraception and also increasing the educational level of women of reproductive age.
Research has it that unplanned pregnancies in the absence of family planning triggers population growth in many countries of the world.
The bulging population is also worsened by the poor state of healthcare in many African countries like Nigeria, giving rise to increase in child and maternal death rates.
In line with this year’s World Population Day theme, “Family Planning is a Human Right”, there have been growing calls for all countries to curb population explosions by adopting modern family planning methods.
Health analysts believe that the entrenchment of Family Planning (FP) as a human right by every country would make FP accessible to every woman who needs it.
However, for some women in primary healthcare facility in Ogudu, Kosofe Local Government Authority (LGA) as well as Mascara, in Alapere, Ikosi, Aguyi-Ketu both in Lagos State, the use of contraceptives remains an effective tool that regulates frequent births and also brings about the desired family size.
Mrs. Taiwo Olubunmi, 42, mother of four is among several mothers who are reaping the benefits of using family planning is delighted with the use of implant method of FP.
She spoke to our correspondent during a recent field trip to the health facility organised by Pathfinder International, “have been enjoying sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant since I started using the implant method of family planning. I now have peace of mind unlike before, and knowing that I have nothing to worry about like unplanned pregnancy.
“All these are possible because my husband supported this family planning process. It is our right to decide the number of children that we want to have.”
Similarly, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ajewole said that the use of contraceptives has saved her and her husband from having more children than they could cater for.
Visibly elated, Oluwatoyin said, “You can see I have six children already which is even too much. When I had my sixth child, one matron came to me and told me to use family planning otherwise I would have given birth to the seventh one. I said, God forbid, the sixth one was even a mistake. But because I get pregnant easily, I was afraid and had to listen to the matron who is a retired nurse.
“The matron counselled me and then introduced me to the Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD), assuring me that it would last longer,” she added. IUCD is a long acting reversible contraception that goes into the uterus.
Oluwatoyin, a business woman, further said, “Though I was having some side effects from it initially, I am happy for it because my body has adjusted to it. Thanks to the matron as I now enjoy sex with my husband without fear of getting pregnant.”
Another user, Mrs Omolola Ahmed, a 29-year- old mother of two said she is fulfilled using family planning.
Omolola said that the method has provided her double benefit of quality living for her two children and planned pregnancy.
She said, “I chose the implant to adequately space my children. After I gave birth to my first child, I became pregnant after six months. Taking care of the baby with pregnancy was not easy for me and I don’t want to make such mistake again,” she added.
The above mentioned women are examples of 1.44 million Nigerian women of reproductive age who are successfully using family planning to curb population explosion.
However, there are over 7.3 million Women of Reproductive Age (WRA) who are currently non-users of family planning.
The overall goal of the national family planning communication campaign was to decrease maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates in Nigeria by focusing on increasing the knowledge of over 7.3 million WRA who are currently non-users with needs for modern family planning methods not yet met.
However, the campaign which was geared to enhance the achievement of the national Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) target of 36 per cent by December 2018 was not met.
Studies have shown that infants born to women who conceived less than six months after giving birth had a 40 per cent increased risk of being born prematurely and a 61 per cent increased risk of low birth weight as compared with infants born to mothers who gave birth after 18 months or two years between pregnancies.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attained their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. According to the world health body, this could be achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
The 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) shows that Nigeria’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 5.5 per cent, which family planning experts have warned would undermine the growth of the nation unless this is urgently addressed.
Research shows that use of family planning methods save lives, reduces risk of unsafe abortion and prevents unplanned pregnancies and their complications, besides the economic gains.
Experts have confirmed that family planning could prevent at least 34 per cent maternal death if every government would embark upon scaling up of family planning services as one of the maternal survival strategy.
Reacting to the prediction of Nigeria’s population reaching 264 million by 2030 and by 2050 the country will become the 3rd most populous nation in the world at 410 million. If the current growth rate persists will in 2100 reach 794 million, Dr. Farouk Jega, Country Director, Pathfinder International in an interview said “absolute number of population is not a bad thing if it goes at pace with the level of infrastructural development.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria’s population has not been at par with infrastructural development even with our human capital development. So, we have this huge Population against the backdrop of very poor educational and health infrastructural development as well as low job opportunities.”
He however said that one of the implications of Nigeria’s booming population is that it further perpetuates underdevelopment which pose huge challenge especially very few job opportunities for the teaming youth who occupy a quarter of the population.
According to him, many studies abound explaining the importance of family planning as a key to achieving a viable demographic dividend if the youth is gainfully engaged added with family will help increase the economic bottom line.
Nigeria hopes to attain its 28 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) by 2020.
The Family Planning (FP) 2020 goal is designed to enable 120 million women and girls have informed choice and access to family planning information and a range of modern contraceptive methods.
The 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) reported contraceptive prevalence rate of 48 per cent for all methods in Lagos State. Lagos State is required to hit a target of 74 per cent to enable Nigeria meet the national CPR target by 2018.
Commenting, Mr. Eze Duruiheoma, the Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC) said that family planning prevents unintended pregnancies and in turn reduces health risks at childbirth and recourse of unsafe abortions.
However, Duruiheoma observed that the benefits of family planning goes beyond saving lives, but as instrument for empowering people and developing nations.
He said family planning which is included in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can help in “achieving many of the goals and this depends on the ability of women to exercise their reproductive rights.
“But increase in the right of women and girls to decide freely and for themselves, on whether, when and how many children to have, afford women and girls more opportunities to become wage earners, thereby boosting family income levels,” he said.
The NPC boss also said human rights are to be exercised by all couples and individuals, adding that FP is the first and last step in managing population.