Community Health, Family Planning and the Future of Nigeria
The growth rate of the Nigerian population is quite alarming and is becoming a problem as the Nigerian economy struggles to respond to the rapid population growth. In context, this uncontrolled increase is already stretching the country’s few infrastructure facilities and contributing massively to the poor standard of living. It is therefore urgent that the government address this issue.
Indeed, available data shows that a Nigerian woman gives birth on average to 5.5 children in her lifetime. Engaged since 2012, the Government of Nigeria is working with key stakeholders to address socio-cultural norms such as: preference for large families, religious tenets and women’s lack of decision-making power over sexual and reproductive health. On its way to devolving funding for its national family planning program to the state level, improving availability and access to basic services and commodities, and slowing its population growth rate, Nigeria is on the path to a healthier future for women and families. The focus is on dispelling myths and misconceptions about family planning, extending the delivery of FP services and supplies to the last mile, and creating an environment in which women and girls make informed choices about their health.
By the end of 2030, Nigeria envisions a country where everyone, including adolescents, youth, crisis-affected populations and other vulnerable populations, are able to make informed choices, to have equitable and affordable access to quality family planning and to participate on an equal footing in the development of society.
According to the current population statistical count released on Thursday, June 9, 2022 by the National Population Commission, it is stated that the current population in Nigeria is 216,001,467. Nigeria has been ranked as the most populous country in Africa and the 6th most populous country in the world with an estimated 217 million people, according to the United Nations. According to them, by the year 2050, of the ten most populous countries in the world will be in Africa and the majority of this population in Nigeria. Currently, Nigeria is on the verge of having a population explosion as expected.
Not so long ago, the nation was ranked among the poorest countries. Nigeria’s demographic crisis is the result of a long-standing lack of attention to human capital development, such as health and welfare, education and skills development, and problems resulting from the predominant production of primary products over finished products, high unemployment, dilapidated public infrastructure and criminal activity that drives people out of the local community and these problems are getting worse every day.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during a speech on Nigeria’s new national population policy, said that ”when a high population is not properly managed, it leads to increased crime rates, unemployment, environmental pollution, excessive pressure on natural resources, insufficient food, inadequate housing, traffic congestion, low human capital indices in so many areas, insecurity and instability”
Family planning is one of the essential ways to manage our population and is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce the following; accidental pregnancies, dangerous births, maternal and infant mortality, and also accelerated our socio-economic development and also the protection of the environment. National Institute Alumni Association (AANI-PAS) coordinator Shina Ogunbiyi, speaking at an event, said “Family planning has been identified as a major solution to the growing population of the Nigeria”.
It is important that the population policy effectively describes effective birth control mechanisms as a central part of the population management policy. This will help to organize the practice of effective family planning as well as the financing modalities that will guarantee access to these programs by girls and women of childbearing age. This will help reduce the birth rate in the country and will also help ensure proper intervals between pregnancies. The proportion of sexual practices among young and young people is considerably very high. Therefore, they should be made aware of the importance of contraceptive use and the risks and dangers associated with unprotected sex.
Additionally, it is important to deconstruct social and gender norms that impede agency, autonomy, and access to rights-based family planning for women and girls, as well as those that impact men, young people and vulnerable populations. Additionally, there is a need to improve working relationships between the media and the health sector, as the media can help raise awareness and educate women and men about the importance of access to FP. Educating men is essential because probably most men minimize the seriousness of maternal and infant mortality and therefore do not provide the necessary support for the adoption of FP.
Similarly, civil society organizations should develop and execute culturally acceptable interventions to promote demand creation for FP services with a view to managing the country’s population aimed at reducing the imbalance between socioeconomic growth and population. .
Nwachukwu writes from the Center for Social Justices (CSJ), Abuja, Nigeria.