Government has identified beliefs and men as parts of the cogs in the wheels in ensuring compliance of family planning, especially in the rural areas.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Titilayo Goncalves, for there to be an appreciable improvement in the compliance level of family planning, men and faith-based bodies must be carried along all through, as they have a very strong and decisive influence in the action that would be ultimately taken by the women.
Goncalves, who disclosed this while receiving The Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family at Scale (PACFaH@Scale) in her office at Alausa, Ikeja, added: “We have seen, in the course of our work, that men and religious bodies are essential, if we must make any headway in compliance level of family planning.
“We have seen men drag their wives back to the hospital to discontinue the planning, saying they never consented to such. And religious bodies have also called in to say we cannot determine what they do with their bodies, especially when their faith frowns against such planning.
“So, our plea is to help, through the media, harp more on the need to adhere and imbibe the advice given to them. Of course, we know we cannot do it all alone, and that is why when we see organisations like yours, we feel encouraged and happy that whatever we are doing, how little it may be, it is being appreciated.”
While acknowledging the state’s strides, such as having the highest percentage of women (80%) delivering by skilled birth attendants in the country, highest percentage (21%) of women using modern family planning, the lowest % of children under 5 with no vaccinations (1.7%) in the country, the lowest % of children (0.4%) presenting with severe anaemia in Nigeria, Maj-Gen. Shina Ogunbiyi (rtd), who led the PACFaH@Scale delegation, said his team hopes to see more improvement in budgetary allocation.”
Ogunbiyi also appealed to Goncalves to help look into the age of consent matter as it affects unwanted pregnancy among youths, who he said already are sexual -active as early as 13, adding that executive fiat, rather than parliamentary, would ensure that it becomes a policy issue.
To this, the perm sec replied that she would be delighted if the age of consent can get an executive fiat would stop seeking approval of family planning from parents for their wards.
PACFaH@Scale is a social accountability project aimed at strengthening the capacity of Nigeria’s Civil Society Organizations, (CSOs) at national and state levels to hold decision-makers to account on health policies/laws and financial commitments to bring down regulatory barriers related to child and family health.