Partners' Message

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Birth/Population Control for Family Health, Checking Infant/Maternal Mortality in Nigeria

I just could not help going back to the headline as captured in the Guardian Newspaper recently regarding the issue of family planning and indeed population control. The annoying headline stated: ‘Civil society faults minister's stance on birth control.’ The civil society group - Project for Human Development (PHD) as led by its DG, one Engr. Jerry Okwuosa, to say the least, came down ferociously at the recent pronouncements of the Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole who advocated increased use of contraception.

Lack and undernourishment

The group while claiming that contraception is equivalent to abortion also accused the Minister of speaking ‘under the influence of the West’! Conspiracy theorists at their worst I must say. They went ahead to say that by the use of contraception, “Nigeria is killing 5.85m babies yearly.” Yet, these same people openly endorse abortion!

For me I think this is utter preposterous and sheer ignorance, or perhaps just another ill-motivated stance aimed at derailing government’s focus, and causing mischief. In the first place how can anyone equate contraception to abortion? There are more than 15 various options available through which (a couple) you can prevent pregnancy and properly plan your family, and so you are free to choose which one your personality or conscience agrees with.

Secondly and most importantly, how can anyone not understand the simple fact that Nigeria is already overpopulated and therefore needs to be put on red alert? What about the pressure being put on health facilities and the rest of social infrastructure? Does Engr. Okwuosa and his organisation know that Nigeria as ‘small’ as it is, is currently the number 7 highest ranking population in the world; do they understand the ominous implications of Nigeria becoming the third most populated country in the world by 2050 according to United Nations projections, if nothing cogent is done now?

Never enough without adequate planning

If a family is not well planned the fallout is obvious, and they are inimical to good health and progress. This is very likely to lead to children not being able to feed well thereby leading to undernourishment and stunted growth. It could also lead to unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions as well as great health risks to mother and baby, etc; the available resources can never be enough to go round. But when you have a manageable family size, you are better equipped to have all these turned around or prevented.

Right now it is on record that Nigeria undeniably also ranks amongst the highest in cases of infant and maternal mortality – that is talking about preventable deaths associated with pregnancy and child delivery. This more than anything else calls for urgent and concerted action as regards family health which will readily entail adequate family planning as well as (exclusive) breastfeeding. According to Dr. Oluwarotimi Akinola, Chairman Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, “Nigeria accounts for 10% of maternal deaths in the whole world.”

Plan your pregnancy and be healthy & joyful

“The last National Demographic and Health Survey in 2008 placed the National Maternal Mortality rate at 545 per 100,000 live births. This is unacceptably high when compared to 350/100,000 and 400/100,000 in Ghana and Benin Republic respectively. Even if this is contentious, UNICEF in 2009 stirred the hornet`s nest when it updated its earlier estimation of the incidence of maternal mortality in Nigeria from 800 per 100,000 to 1,100 per 100,000 live births” Akinola stated recently.

Happy, healthy angelic babies are planned for

We need to encourage and help enlighten everyone on the necessity to check population explosion. By so doing every one and every family will be empowered to get the kind of nourishment and healthcare adequate for the overall development of our society. When a family is planned this way, the (mother) couple is better able to give enough personal attention to individual child, feed them well and they are very likely to grow up with high intelligence levels - having been adequately breastfed as well. We need to by the same token enable the health and preservation of our environment, and our world at large.

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