By Kemi Yesufu
Stakeholders at a media roundtable to mark the World Contraception Day, 2021 called on the Federal Government and government at the sub-national level to invest in improving access to information, family planning commodities and services.
Speaking at the roundtable organized by Pathfinders International to discuss gaps which exist in youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as improve reportage and media advocacy, Deborah Mamman, a youth advocate called for the implementation of laws and policies aimed at protecting youths.
According to her laws such as the Child Rights Act which stipulates the age of consent and other laws and policies targeted at protecting children, adolescents and young people must be fully implemented to effect change.
Mamman particularly called for a unified operational model which is implemented at all level for the provision of sexual and reproductive health services, saying the disjointed nature of service provision locks out young people who are often on the go in search of better opportunities.
She noted that young people still have to contend with unprofessional service providers and health workers, who display cultural bias when young people seek information or services for their sexual and reproductive health. This as she decried the fact that young people have to pay from out of their pockets for healthcare.
Giving the religious perspective on child spacing at the dialogue, a Muslim cleric, Murtala Abdul-Rahman stressed that Islam supports conditional birth control and child spacing, but strongly prohibits infanticide in any form. He also explained that Islamic teachings on child spacing is based on protecting the health of the mother and the unborn child. He stated that health talks which could also include the subject of reproductive health can be organized in his Mosque, but all teaching adhere strictly to the instructions in the Quran.
Sharing the Christian perspective, Pastor Godwin Michael said the Bible teaches Christians to apply wisdom in all things. He noted that Christian couples are allowed to plan their families wisely. Michael who recalled that the original plan of God was for man to go forth and multiply further said that Christians in obedience to this plan now apply wisdom on the number of children they can afford to cater for and provide adequate care. According to him, the goal of a Christian should be to raise the number of children he can cater for in the fear of God and with the goal of making them good members of the society.
On her part, a service provider Salome Vincent urged that government displays political will with regard to funding sectors that are vital to young people. She asked that states create a budget line for adolescent health, this as she suggested that young people be involved in the development and implementation of policies made for them.
Host of the media parley, Country Director of Pathfinder International, Dr. Amina Dorayi described contraception and family planning as critical to Nigeria and any country seeking development and economic growth.
She observed that Monday’s discussions involved the critical stakeholders who shared on hand experience on issues sounding the adolescent health, family planning and the provision of sexual reproductive health services.
She said: “For us at Pathfinder International in Nigeria the World Contraception Day is a very special day. I always tell people that the reason why I believe that contraception is one of the most important elements of human development is because its old as mankind. It is old as mankind because sex is old as mankind, so definitely, people tried from time immemorial to manage their fertility
“Why this year’s edition of the World Contraceptive Day is very important is because we dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and it has showed us the challenges of not only family life, but what happens if contraceptives are not taken as a priority for communities and the nation.
“This panel discussion that we had is timely. The perspectives that we heard from the religious to the youths themselves, the advocates and service providers, is very critical because the discussions gave us what is really going on”.