Concern mounts over family planning rate in Akwa Ibom, other states

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By Lovina Anthony

Family planning remains below average in Akwa Ibom State and some other parts of the country, DAILY POST has learnt.

This is not unconnected with ignorance, myths, misconception and religious belief.

This has made it difficult for Nigeria to meet the global pledge it made along other countries in 2012 to achieve a Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) of 27 per cent among all women by 2020.

Akwa Ibom on its part is struggling to meet its target of attaining 30 per cent by 2030 as stipulated by the Federal Ministry of health.

The State is currently at 19.8 per cent.

According to the 2006 census data, the estimated population in Akwa Ibom is 6,534,782 million. From the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), the estimated Women Reproductive Age,WRA, (15-49 years) is 1,437,652, which is 22 per cent of the total population, while the estimated number of women in reproductive age currently using the modern Family Planning method is approximately 215,090.

The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria had foreseen a population explosion and identified Family Planning (FP) as a tool to slow down the burgeoning population and reduce the high maternal and child mortality rate.

Worried by the situation, the Family Planning Coordinator, Akwa Ibom State Primary Health Care Development Agency (AKSPHCDA) Mrs Enobong Eshiet during the Breakthrough Action-Nigeria (BA-N) Media review meeting in Uyo, encouraged women and couples to make voluntary choices of family planning services for their economic and health wellbeing.

She said, “I’m not satisfied with the number of uptakes in the State because we have not met our target.

“Our target by the federal ministry of health is 30 per cent by 2030, but Akwa Ibom State is just 19.8 per cent currently in its Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR). So we still have much to do to meet up the target.”

In an interview with one Ekemini Akpabio, popularly known as ‘Nma Uyo’ in one of the communities in Akwa Ibom, she narrated that she was not aware of family planning services until she had her seventh child (though stillbirth) which almost cost her life.

According to the mother of six, “Initially I was not aware of family planning. No one talked to me about that. My husband repairs bicycles at Itam Market and I fry akara to help my family.

“I had all my children with a traditional birth attendant in our community, but will I say fortunately or unfortunately, when my 7th child came, the pregnancy was very difficult.

“Even when labour came, the baby did not come out despite the effort of the woman where I went to give birth. I was referred to the health centre. After everything, God helped me and I gave birth, by then, the baby had already died out of exhaustion.”

Nma Uyo further explained that after the incident, one of the nurses introduced a family planning regimen to her and advised her to come back for it after she had recovered from the trauma of losing a child.

Though she did not get expected support from the husband as she revealed, she said she had since taken the option of implant and never had any regret.

She added that the incident happened five years ago and she had never gotten pregnant, adding that she is gradually gaining back her body.

However, Mr Edikan’s case may not be out of ignorance or lack of awareness as in the case of Nma Uyo.

Edikan, a clergyman and father of three girls between the ages of 1-4 said it is against his belief to embrace modern family planning methods.

He said, “it’s only God that can truly give children, so why should I stop the gift of God? (he laughs).

“Well the issue is that I’m aware of family planning but my wife and I have agreed to have our babies every year, after that she can rest and we think of how we can manage ourselves.”

Asked if they would adopt the modern family planning method when done with child bearing he said, “we will work according to our belief, so don’t worry.”

Investigations revealed that unmarried women at the reproductive age who engage in active sex hardly get the services of family planning due to societal perceptions and stigma.

This has resulted in the high rate of abortion, which sometimes causes maternal mortality, abundance of street children, as well as economic threats.

However, Mrs Eshiet at the BA-N Media meeting called for intensive media awareness for family planning and urged religious, as well as community leaders to advise and cause a behavioural change of their followers on their perception of family planning.

She enumerated the available types of modern family planning services to include: Male/female condom; Pills (which include Microgynon (COC), Exluton (POP); Injectables (Noristerat (2 months duration), DMPA IM (3 months duration), DMPA SC Self Injection (3 months duration) as well as implants which lasts between 3 to 5 years.

She, however, debunked the myth that any young lady that uses family planning will no longer have children when she is ready.

She urged couples to go to health facilities for proper advice and information.

“Those who still have fear or misconception about family planning should not worry because there are so many benefits. They should visit health centres and get adequate information and proper services.

“Religious and community leaders should encourage their members, both men and women, to embrace family planning services,” she advised.

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