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Stakeholders decry stigma against family planning, sex education

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The vexed issue of sex education in schools to prevent unwanted pregnancies was the centre of discussion at the 10th year anniversary of Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria (MSION) at the weekend in Abuja. Indiscriminate sexual activities outside marriage can unduly lead to population explosion, as children born under such circumstances are mostly unwanted.

According to population projections, Nigeria will be approaching the threshold of 400 million mark by 2050, hence family planning is a sine-qua-non to stave off stigma about sexual education. Hence stakeholders in the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) at the event made case for more to be done to ensure the girl child is positively aware of the danger in sex outside marriage to ensure that families and women have children by choice, not chance.

They want a world in which every birth is wanted and where every mother can enjoy a wanted and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
Assistant Director, Laboratory Science in the Department of Health Planning Research and Statistics, Dr. Tony Udoh, who represented the Federal Ministry of Health, said family planning is meant to curtail population through the control of birth rate.

Udoh lamented the fate of young female graduates who whether they search for job with a certificate or not are vulnerable because when pushed to the wall, they do not have any choice.

“So the little involvement in sexual activity could lead to unwanted pregnancy that is not wanted.” Country Director of the MSION, Effiong Nyong Effiong, said sex education generally is a right that must be afforded the women and the girl child. “The country has its guidelines around this but families have a role to play, mothers have a role to play because they are the first point of contact with their children.

“Giving them information is not a bad thing, if we fail to give them information then we allow different media to give them the information. I think we should encourage it and it is a right to afford our children and at least we know that those that are informed would not make the wrong decisions.”

Country Director for IPAS Nigeria Barrister Hawa Shekarau observed that about a decade ago when there was conversation about introducing comprehensive sexuality education in schools religious leaders and different stakeholders gathered against it to say that would be a way of teaching our people how to have sex.

“Parents who think that their children know nothing about sex are only deluding themselves. The social media age that we are in today almost everything you want you can get them on your phone. It is better they are taught appropriate sexuality education so that they can know enough to be able to handle situation

“Today, in Nigeria and other African countries, stories abound of eight year old girl being molested even two year old. That is how badly and depraved our society has become and so we need to face this head on, if we want to play the ostrich we would be deceiving ourselves. Parents must face the reality and not to continue to look at their children as being innocent of sexual activities. At home you should sit them down and have the right conversation and teach them all they have to know. “If you don’t have comprehensive sex education in schools, be sure that they would go and find it out elsewhere and when they do that on their own, they may not have the right information and they could be cheated.”

MSION has been collaborating with the Ministries of Health at National and State levels to expand impact and scale up healthcare quality for ten years.They used the10th anniversary celebration to mark critical milestones in providing SRH including family planning and child spacing services in response to Nigeria’s high unmet need; promote our unique services, products and brand.

Their vision is to create a world in which every birth is wanted in a world where every mother can enjoy a wanted and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.They believe every child can survive beyond their fifth birthday; and every woman, child and adolescent can thrive to realise their full potential, resuIting in enormous social, demographic and economic benefits.

The organisation said it has brought SRH particularly family planning service needs to over seven million persons through service delivery channels spread across the country.It said, in 10 years, it has delivered more than 29 million family planning services delivered to 7,239,147 persons in Nigeria strengthening efforts in the public and private health sectors


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