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Experts seek support for healthy timing, spacing of pregnancies, childbirths

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DKT contributed 14% of country’s contraceptive uptake in 2015

As part of activities to mark the World Contraception Day (WCD), September 26, experts have call for achievement of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies and childbirths.

The WCD is an annual global campaign, which centers around a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. The mission is to improve awareness of contraception and enable women to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive rights – in essence plan the timing and spacing of their births.

Speaking on the low uptake of family planning methods in Nigeria, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oladosu Ojengbede, acknowledged that the wide knowledge of family planning methods has not translated to its uptake.

“Religious connotation seems to draw us back and cultural issues such as the men not supporting family planning, community misconceptions about family planning, religious undertone to family planning and also the failure to build enough confidence in the people to access quality services needed for family planning.”

Senior Technical Advisor, Advocacy for Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), Mrs. Charity Ibeawuchi, noted that the health of the women, particularly those of reproductive age (15 – 49 years) in Nigeria stands out with the silent epidemic of poor maternal mortality and morbidity.

“Twenty-three percent of our teenage girls (age 15-19) are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. Half of our teenage girl population is already married by age 18, while 61 per cent are married by age 20 (National Demographic and Health Survey Report 2013). Women in Nigeria have an average of six children,” she noted.

A non-profit making organisation, DKT International, with the launch of some family products, has been a leading organisation in the campaign since 2012 and has changed the family planning paradigm using social marketing, and in only three years, have contributed 14 per cent of Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate in 2015.

The country director, DKT Nigeria, Dimos Sakellaridis, in a statement, said: “We plan to introduce other products like contraceptive vaginal rings, Caya diaphragm, hormonal Intra Uterine System (IUS), post-partum Intra Uterine Device (IUD) and various contraceptive pills in the near future so that every women finds her most suitable form of contraception and make affordable contraceptives as easily available in Nigeria as Coca-Cola.”

To tackle the challenges of uptake of family planning, he said DKT promises to improve on women’s health with the launch of new family planning communications campaign that coincided with WCD.

“The target audience of our campaign is young women ages 18-34 (primary) and young men ages 20-34 (secondary) in the lower middle and working classes of southwest Nigeria. Using social marketing, we launched Kiss and Fiesta condoms, Post pill emergency contraception, Levofem oral contraceptive, Sayana Press injectable, Implanon NXT and Jadelle implants, Lydia intrauterine devices (IUDs) and Miso-Fem (Misoprostol). We plan to introduce other products like contraceptive vaginal rings, Caya diaphragm, hormonal IUS, post-partum IUD and various contraceptive pills in the near future so that every women finds her most suitable form of contraception.”

Sakellaridis said, “Like women’s beauty products or hairstyles, modern family planning should be consumer-oriented and easy to understand, access and use. It should not be a mysterious subject riddled with high-sounding but confusing terms like contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR), method mix and unmet need.

“If we can motivate Nigerian women to adopt family planning and support the Nigerian government towards achieving the 36 per cent CPR target for 2018, we will save the lives of many women and girls in Nigeria.”

The theme of the campaign is “Be Sharp.” The phrase is common slang that resonates with the target audiences. It means be smart, not dull. It means making the right decisions, especially concerning birth control and contraception, to avoid unwanted surprises.

A new website, http://honeyandbanana.com, will serve as the central hub of the campaign and will be the destination for other traffic sources, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It will educate our target audiences about our products as well as other topics that interest them.

“But we will not rely only on digital and social media. We will also use community radio to reach rural, peri-urban and less connected young people.”

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According to 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, only few Nigerian women (about 15 per cent) are using any method of family planning for spacing or limiting pregnancies while 10 per cent use modern family planning methods.

Ibeawuchi said the low uptake of Family Planning/Child birth spacing methods is one of the reasons why Nigeria still reports high maternal mortality of 576 deaths per 100,000 live births (2013 NDHS Report) in Nigeria. Studies have found that family planning alone reduces maternal deaths by more than 33 per cent.

Ibeawuchi also noted that the enormity of the current high maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria is staggering. The social and economic costs due to the complications and deaths to the family and the nation are enormous and should be resolved as a national priority. Recognizing the efforts of Nigerian government such as the adoption of National Family Planning Blueprint (Costed Implementation Plan) in October 2014 which is aimed at scaling up modern family planning services uptake and enhancing positive behaviours among women and families, she observed that budget lines and funding dedicated to maternal health, including family planning information and services at the federal, state and local governments levels are grossly inadequate to achieve this goal.



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