World Contraception Day: family planning provider advocates access to contraceptives

Gloria Essien, Abuja


As the world marks World Contraception Day, a leading family planning provider in Nigeria Marie Stopes has called on government and health authorities to lift the barriers preventing women and girls from accessing contraceptives and empower them with needed information to methods.

The family planning provider says denial of the right to access contraception could rob young people of their future as it results in unplanned pregnancies.

The Country Director of Marie Stopes, Mr. Effiom Nyong Effiom, said that the society needs to stop treating young people as ignorant and naive.

“Currently, adolescents who want to use contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy are being denied it because of the various myths and misconceptions about family planning methods. Adolescents are often told that sex outside marriage is wrong, while some countries have even created laws to block unmarried adolescents from accessing contraception. When they do marry, often while still very young, they face pressure to have children almost immediately. The health sector needs to implement interventions to improve the delivery of health services to adolescent as a means of facilitating their access to and use of contraceptives,” he said

“When women and girls have access to contraception, it is transformative for their future: Fewer girls drop out of school, fewer young women die giving birth, and more young women enter the workforce. This benefits the country as a whole. Marie Stopes Nigeria is calling on the government\health authorities to lift the barriers preventing women and girls from accessing contraception and empower them with the information they need to choose a method of contraception that is right for them,” he noted.

He noted that the World Contraception Day should be used to highlight how barriers preventing young people from accessing contraception and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) are increasing chances of unplanned pregnancies which could end up robbing young people of their life chances.

“Preventing access to contraception and CSE does not stop young people from having sex, but instead increases the chance that young women will experience an unplanned pregnancy, often derailing their hopes and dreams for the future. The impact of this is devastating. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among young women aged 15-19years, many of which are due to unsafe abortion,” he stressed.

The Country Director however noted that unplanned pregnancy can also limit the ability of young people to remain in schools and realise their full potential, resulting in greater costs to society through lower wages for women and an increased population growth.

“Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem in Nigeria as it contributes significantly to maternal morbidity and mortality. In Nigeria, an estimated 20-40% of maternal deaths result from abortion complications with a procedure-related death rate of 680 per 100,000 abortions. In 2012, there were 1,250,000 induced abortions in Nigeria (representing above double of 1996 figure of 610,000); equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-49. Over 80 percent of induced abortions are done by doctors in private settings,” Mr Effiom added.

Marie Stopes says Fifty-six percent of unintended pregnancies were resolved by abortion. Most females who had abortion were younger than 25 years (55 percent), never in martial union (63 percent) and never had a child previously (60 percent). Almost half of all abortions are performed surgically through Manual Vacuum Aspiration.

It says poor access to relevant reproductive health and family planning information and services, lack of life skills, and low contraceptive usage are some of the factors that contribute significantly to high vulnerability of young people to unsafe abortion in Nigeria.