Family Planning gaining acceptance in Rivers

There is definitely a growing awareness and acceptance of Family Planning (FP), procedures in Rivers State.

Recent visit to some Family Planning service providing facilities in parts of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the state showed that over 150 women have taken on the procedure in the public facilities in the last five weeks, as against less than 50 women in a whole year.

The tour was organised by “The Challenge Initiative (TCI)” and DEVCOM, two non-governmental organisations (NGO) given to scaling up of reproductive health solutions among the urban poor, with special interest in Family Planning.

It was a routine visit of the Media partners of the NGOs, to the facilities to monitor the level of awareness, acceptance of the use of contraceptives in child birth spacing and promoting healthy living, especially among people of child bearing age.

The team visited three state-owned primary health facilities in Churchill, Elekahia and Rumuigbo and interacted with some women who were at the facility to undertake the procedure.

The women in their separate interviews told journalists why they decided to undergo the treatment and the role of their husbands.

Mrs. Dorathy (surname withheld), a 25 year-old mother of one, who was at the Elekahia FP facility to undertake a 5-year implant method told The Nation why she took the decision.

“I want to do Family Planning after the birth of my first child because I want to rest. My husband agreed that I should come and protect myself from getting another pregnancy soon,” she revealed.

Her reason is not far from that of 30 year-old Mrs. Godwin, who already has two children – a four-year-old boy and a three-month-old girl, as she said the fear of another unplanned pregnancy informed their decision.

“FP is meant to prevent women from getting unwanted babies. I have two children, one boy and one girl, my husband and I agreed to come and do FP so that I will not give birth to another unplanned baby…” she said.

Sampling the opinion of young mothers on the willingness to use FP methods to space out their childbirths, Mrs. Ijeoma Isaiah said, “I am aware that FP helps in childbirth spacing, but I am not ready to subscribe to it now.

“However, rather than having children year in, year out, it is better to go for proper FP, I strongly advice couples to use the method to space out their child births and give the woman time to heal and fully recover before having another child.” she advised.

FP allows couples and individuals the ability to control the number, timing and spacing of their children. This is regarded as an essential element in the health and well-being of women.

Maternal mortality reduction is one of the crucial targets of the United Nations, then Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) agenda between year 2000 and 2015 and in this second phase of the campaign, “sustainable development goals”(SDGs).

The essence is to ensure that more women, especially those under reproductive age maintain healthy living and enjoy longer life in good health in year 2030.

In February 2015, the World Health Organisation in publishing the strategies towards reducing preventable maternal mortality under SDGs, prescribed the use of contraceptives, otherwise known as Family Planning as very effective, but for reasons bordering on culture and religious believes, among others, many prefer abortion despite its attendant consequences of complication and death.

Nigeria maternity mortality rate is currently put at 814 per 100,000 lives birth, (2020 report), at the ratio of 1 death in every 22 live births, while that in developed countries is estimated at just one in every 4,900 pregnant women.

The country in 2020 recorded a huge improvement to that of year 2000 and 2017 when the country recorded between 6500 and 7, 500 deaths in every 100,000 women that went to deliver baby in the period.

Before now, FP was believed to be one of those problems that only the married should worry about, but that appears to be another myth. In a workshop organised by TCI/ DEVCOM, in Port Harcourt, it was learnt that sexually active single women can equally access the procedure to save their future and dreams from being stalled by unwanted, unplanned teenage pregnancy and its consequential school drop outs, unsafe abortion and possible deaths.

People have various reasons for abhorring the use of contraceptives to plan their future and families; however, the reasons are hinged on myths and misconceptions about cultural and religious beliefs, which cannot be convincingly substantiated.

Apart from culture and religion influences, other reasons are problems of misinformation, including hear-say feelings, fears (psychological) that FP commodities cause bleeding in women, overweight, and even premature menopause among others.

But Matrons of Elekahia and Rumuigbo Primary Healthcare Centres, Mrs. Dumbari Beauty Ntor-ue and Mrs. Bounty-Pepple Ibimina, respectively, dismissed the claims, maintaining that unless the FP client (woman) engaged in reckless feeding, FP instruments do not cause weight gain in women.

The medical personal on ground confirmed that FP is beginning to gain wider awareness and acceptance among couples in the state, including single young adult males and females, adding that while secondary school girls approach FP centres for implants, the males come to ask for condoms.

Speaking, Mrs. Ntor-ue said, “We have all the methods available in this centre. The level of acceptance is very good now when compared with the previous years. I can score it 80% now. More interesting now is the fact that some men accompany their wives to the centre to undergo the treatment, and when their husbands did not come with them, you will hear them women say, their husbands asked them to come and do it, so they have the support of their husbands in accessing the services.”

She said almost 70 procedures of them have been carried out at the centre this new year, adding that almost 60 were recorded in January alone. This is aside cases of men that come with their wives to collect condoms. She said “young single male adults also come to the centre to get condoms.”

Explaining how contraceptives work in the body, Mrs Ibimina said, “FP hormonal work in two ways. It can work in the female ovaries by stopping it from releasing the eggs, thereby stalling ovulation for pregnancy to be achieved, or work on the sperm of the man by neutralising it from fertilising the eggs for pregnancy to be achieved.

Speaking further she said, “FP is such that people perception defers, what they see and hear is not always the true picture of what FP is all about, hence FP is associated with so much misconceptions, but we have always tried our best to clear the myths by patiently explaining it to people and help them drop the lies they had been fed.

“When they come with the lies that FP promotes infertility, we always remind them of some virgins who never did FP method but yet are having issues of infertility. FP can only stall pregnancy within the period one is on it; the moment the persons stops it, pregnancy can be achieved without further delays, all things being equal.

She expressed satisfaction at the rate with which residents of the state are showing interests in the services lately, adding that over 45 persons both old and new clients access the treatment from the centre in January alone. She said secondary school girls also come to do implants, while the males come for condoms.

“Many people come here for inquiry on FP methods; most men come with their wives. Some also come to ask to be educated on it, after which they go and never return while others come back to undertake it. One thing we do here to help them take decisions faster is to engage in follow-ups through the contact lines they left with us,” she disclosed.

The story is the same at Churchill facility. Patients were seen at the centre(FP) seeking either to take the process for the first time or undergo a renewal.

It was discovered that the five year duration implant methods and use of condoms, male and female are common and more in demand

One of the clients, Mrs Chiwendu Chima, a resident of Rumuigbo Community in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area shared her experience, “After my third baby, l used the injection method but it caused me discomfort, constant spotting and bleeding every month, alongside weight loss, hence I discontinued it and opted for implant method.

  • “I have used the implant method for five years without any side effect; my husband and I have decided to renew it for another five years that is why I am here. Our last child is seven years old, I am free to go about my domestic and economic activities, unlike when I was either nursing a little baby and pregnant with another. Now I can even have multiple sources of income to support my family.”
  • Suffice it to say that while the world had set to reduce maternal mortality ratio to 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by year 2030, that of the United Nations member countries has been set to at least two-thirds from their 2010 baseline; and yet countries with the highest maternal mortality burdens like Nigeria are expected to achieve even greater reduction.

As a matter of fact, no member country is expected to record more than 140 maternal deaths by 2030 a research document stated.

Achieving the SDG target of a global Maternal Mortality Reduction of fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030 will require continued investment in maternal health research, programmes and policy at the global level and very focused action in countries, and Rivers State in particular.

Source: The Nation News

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