4th Nigeria Family Planning Conference ends on a high as youth demand more inclusion


Young people at the 4th Nigeria Family Planning Conference at Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo Credit: Chibuike Alagboso.

 
The 4th Nigeria Family Planning conference (7-9 November, 2016) held at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja with positive resolutions made by participants. The conference which had the theme: “Family Planning in Nigeria: The Journey so Far”, is the largest gathering of experts working on family planning in Nigeria. It brought together over 1500 participants from across Nigeria and beyond to forge the way forward in promoting family planning services in Nigeria. The main conference was preceded by a youth pre-conference which featured discussions on the challenges affecting youth access to family planning and the proffering of solutions to these challenges.

Family Planning is the practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilization.

In Nigeria, several factors impede progress in provision of family planning services such as lack of funds, cultural and religious barriers, absence of proper policies and poor health systems. This has led to unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions and other associated risks. It is for these reasons that stakeholders and policy makers gathered at the conference to bridge the gap in the family planning response in Nigeria.

During the opening ceremony, Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Federal Minister of Health promised to increase funding for planning planning by one million US dollars thereby raising the budgeted figure from three to four million dollars. This is to ensure wider coverage and uptake of family planning services by the least reached people in Nigeria.

Beth schlachter, executive director of FP2020 while presenting a mid-term report of the FP2020 global partnership which supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many babies they want to have, highlighted successes recorded especially in Africa.

“For the first time, more than three one hundred million women and girls are using modern contraception in 69 FP2020 focal countries. This shows the significant progress made in provision of family planning services since the London 2012 summit”, She said.

Also present was Hajia Amina Mohammed, the Minister of Environment who presented a lecture on the link between the Environment and family planning stating that each of the 17 sustainable Development Goals are interconnected for maximum output. She further stated that as one who participated in drafting of the goals, she remains committed to the achievement of all the SDGs.

Margaret Bolaji, the FP2020 Youth Representative stated that young people should be the focus of government’s current family planning efforts as they play a critical role in determining the future of healthy and well-spaced families in Nigeria. She further stated that Nigeria has a strong chance of achieving the 36% Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) set by government in the last family planning conference held in 2014. Currently, Nigeria’s CPR is about 15% and this is way below the target set by the FP2020 Global partnership that seeks to ensure that no one is unjustly denied access to modern family planning services.

Chike Okafor, the Chairman House Committee on Health Services while addressing participants expressed the need to improve not just family planning services but also the improvement of PHCs across the country. “My colleagues and I at the legislature will do all we can to ensure that our health system is improved from the national to the community level.  Our health systems have been abandoned for long and the least reached people reside in the rural communities. We want to ensure that no one is left behind because we are committed to achieving the sustainable development goals and future where our women, children and youth have access to the essential sexual and reproductive health services without hindrances.”

Young people in Nigeria, continue to hope that the outcomes of the conference will be implemented to reflect their demands. And that they are carried along all through the process of implementation from policy formation to program execution so that they can contribute to what affects their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Nigerian youths are demanding meaningful youth engagement in family planning, health and all developmental sectors for the achievement of the sustainable development goals.