Family planning, viable approach toward checking maternal mortality

Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress
By Justina Auta, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Amid increased advocacy for the adoption of birth control methods, many
women, particularly in rural communities, still resist prescribed modern methods, thereby becoming pregnant so often and not having enough rest and intervals between their children.
The lack of rest also affects womens’ health, as their body may not get enough time and nutrients to recuperate before undergoing another cycle of pregnancy.
“It is God that gives children, even though I have seven children now, I will not do any family planning because I heard that it makes some women to develop illnesses, gain weight and might even make some infertile.’’
Those were the words of Fatima Umar, a 27-year-old mother of
seven, delivered of another baby barely one year after twin girls.
Umar, like many women, said she would not go for family planning because she learnt that it could cause health problems in the long run, adding that “no matter what one does, if a child is destined to be born, he or she will certainly be born.
“Besides, I don’t want to complicate my system or body chemistry with drugs.”
The mother of seven, who acknowledged that there were giant strides by health facilities, government and Non-Governmental Organisations toward increasing access to family planning commodities, said that some women, especially in rural communities still have fears.
She added that the fear, even though largely unproven, made some women  to reject family planning methods, which in many cases, result into unintended pregnancies.
She explained that when such pregnancies occur, the women or girls opt for abortion due to fear of stigmatisation, poor financial status or cultural and moral beliefs, hence patronising quacks to terminate the pregnancy.
Umar said that patronising quacks had led to loss of many innocent lives, as such people use unsterilised equipment and operate in unhygienic environment.
Apart from abortion, she said, some women even go as far as giving birth to the babies, but abandon them to die.
Mrs Jummai Amana, a Christian  Marriage Counselor, said that the lack of family planning commodities had led to unsafe abortion at the risk of the lives of mothers, who always seek for such services from quacks.
She, however, noted that in its quest to address the challenge, Federal Government collaborated with  several organisations to carry out campaigns to
encourage family planning to enable families to plan the number of children they could take care of.
She explained that some family planning methods, like the female and male condoms, are known to prevent the transmission of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
Marie Stopes International Organisation of Nigeria (MSION), an NGO, has been an advocate of family planning as necessary tool toward achieving development, reducing poverty and ending maternal mortality in the country.
The international NGO provides contraceptives in countries around the world, empowering women and girls to take control of their futures.
It opened its first clinic in 2009, becoming one of the only providers of long-acting and permanent contraception in the country.
The organisation’s Director of Programme Operation, Mr Emmanuel Ajah, during a recent workshop for Reproductive Health Journalists in Ibadan, also said that the mission of the organisation was to ensure that “children are born by choice, not by chance’’ through advocacy to adopt family planning methods.
According to him, reports indicate that 451 women and girls out of every 100,000 die from maternal causes, while unsafe abortion contributes to over 30 per cent of maternal deaths in Nigeria.
He added that “contraception and abortion contribute to an unacceptably
high Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of 451 deaths per 100,000 live
births, while unsafe abortion contributes over 30 per cent of maternal
deaths in the country.’’
Mrs Funmilayo Abodunrin, the Head of Facility, Apete Primary Health Centre and Family Planning Coordinator for Ido Local Government Area in Oyo state, recently told health reporters on a field trip about an increasing number of women seeking modern contraceptive methods in the community.
Abodunrin said that the Apete health centre usually register at least 100 new clients monthly in addition to existing ones, which she attributed to increased awareness and advocacy on family planning.
She explained that “before Marie Stopes came here, the turnout of women seeking modern contraceptives was not this encouraging, but because of mobilisation, we created more demand for family planning commodities.’’
On her own part, Mrs Hannah Osoko, the Head, Christ Hope Hospital and
Maternity,  said that the encouraging turnout indicates that more women can now make informed choices about their reproductive health.
She listed the oral pills, implants, coil or Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) — a T-shaped implant placed in woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy, vasectomy and female sterilisation-tubal litigation as the various methods of family planning offered at the centre, adding that some couples visit the centre for counselling and services on appropriate methods.
Mrs Ogechi Onuoha, the Head of Marketing and Strategic Communication of MSION, said that access to safe and voluntary family planning was a human right, and central to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Dr Emmanuel Tabat, who works at 44 Reference Hospital, Kaduna, who spoke on the benefits of  family planning,  listed reducing unitended pregnancies and abortion, pregnancy related morbidity and mortality reduction as some of the advantages.
He said “many families have larger number of children than they actually desire and as such struggle financially to cater for them, while others opt for abortion from quacks, which might cause complications that might lead to deaths.
“To address these challenges, the Network of Reproductive Health Reporters in Nigeria carried out campaigns to educate the public on the need to adopt family planning.
“Despite being rated as the giant of Africa and most populous on the continent, poverty in Nigeria is one of the contributory factor that has led to several social vices.”
Tabat, therefore, advised that the adoption of family planning would aide in addressing many challenges, ensure proper planning and spacing for the family and the nation at large and spur development. (NANFeatures)

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