Nigeria launched a new national family planning campaign Monday, in a bid to achieve its goals of decreasing mortality rate, maternal and infant morbidity.

With the new campaign, launched during the 5th Annual National Family Planning Stakeholders Consultative Meeting in Abuja, the most populous African nation is working to ensure that about 7.3 million women have access to family planning.

The agenda of the three-day meeting, partly sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was to take stock of the progress made so far with the implementation of the family planning program in Nigeria in the past year and chart a strategic direction for facilitating equitable universal access to family planning services through performance monitoring.

Stakeholders in the field of reproductive maternal newborn and child health across the country converged on Abuja, to discuss how to invest in family planning as a key to achieving the sustainable development goals in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s population is projected to double in 20 years and increase by 146 percent by 2050, a situation depicting a population that is growing faster than the economy, according to the ministry of health.

This has been largely driven by high fertility rate in the past 30 years.

The three-day Abuja meeting is aimed at developing a work plan for the nation and deemed to be critical to proffering an effective population management solution.

Going by the new campaign, the African country targets 36 percent contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR).

Minister of Health Isaac Adewole told reporters that the national family planning campaign was relaunched as it was entrenched in the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, unveiled early this year by President Muhammadu Buhari, that Nigeria must adopt a strategic approach to managing the population.

“The federal government has approved 3 million U.S. dollars for family planning, and we will gradually increase it so that we can get to the benchmark,” Adewole said.

“Child spacing is a necessity, planning the family is a necessity. It is all about inclusiveness; networking and collective action.

“We all must get things done if we want to achieve mileage irrespective of what we call it; whether it is family planning or child spacing or future planning,” he noted.

At the Abuja meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Nigerian government and the UNFPA, basically to promote an enabling environment and institutionalize the basket funds for the family planning campaign.

“The MOU signed is putting teeth to the desire to provide a free contraceptive commodity to all Nigerians, irrespective of where they live… and this is what we want to achieve,” Adewole said.

Saying it seems to have made significant progress toward improving the health status of women and children based on the reduction in the maternal health and child mortality and morbidity in the past 15 years, Diene Keita, the country representative of UNFPA, noted Nigeria still contributes about 14 percent to the global burden of maternal deaths.

“The implication is that every day in Nigeria, 110 Nigeria women die every day due to preventable pregnancy-related complications,” Keita explained.

Just as fear of side effects, norms, belief, and misconception, among others, were the major factors affecting the use of contraceptives in Nigeria, lack of proper communication and understanding had been the bane of family planning policies in the past.

Most Nigerians did not have the basic knowledge about the importance of family planning, causing the country to be stagnated in that direction over the years.

“The significant gaps still persist between knowledge and contraceptive use, thereby creating marginal shifts in unmet needs for family planning in the country,” the health ministry said in a statement.

“The Green Dot,” launched Monday, would now serve as the official marker for public and private locations where people can obtain family planning services that are safe, affordable and effective in Nigeria. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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