BY THE SOCIETY FOR MEDIA ADVOCACY ON HEALTH, NIGERIA
Access to family planning services commodities and consumables helps women to easily decide their number of children and their births spacing, while effective use of contraceptives enhances their health, social status, among other benefits.
Indeed, good mental health and happiness, educational attainment, workforce participation and economic stability and the general well being of women are achieved when births of children are adequately spaced.
A recent research by Guttmacher Institute showed that many women used and valued contraception because it provided them social and economic benefits. The research further revealed that controlling whether and when to have children portend positive benefits for women.
The Institute said the majority of women reported that, over the course of their lives, access to contraception had enabled them to take better care of themselves or their families, support themselves financially, complete their education, or get or keep a job.
Further, the research showed that some of them used contraceptives because they were not ready to have children.
Another 2013 review by the Guttmacher Institute, more than 66 studies, spanning three decades said reliable contraception allows women to be better parents. Among the findings: couples who experience unintended pregnancies and unplanned childbirths are more likely to have depression and anxiety— while adults who plan their children tend to be happier.
No doubt, systematic evidence confirms that access to effective contraception is a catalyst of opportunity, while its increasing availability and use over time has helped reshape women’s expectations about their educational and career opportunities, roles in the home and workplace. Truly, it has helped transform societal expectations of women, as well as their opportunities.
Evidence abounds that women’s decisions concerning getting into marriage, family formation and their knowledge about the benefits of a smaller family size and of birth spacing will influence future population growth rates and ensure health and welfare of families.
In the words of Adam Sonfield, Guttmacher Institute Senior Public Policy Associate; “It all starts with educational attainment that leads to greater economic stability for women and their families.”
The Guttmacher Institute concluded that access to birth control significantly increases a woman’s earning power and narrows the gender pay gap.
Specifically, access to contraception inspired growing numbers of young women to obtain some higher education and pursue advanced professional degrees, such as in law, medicine, dentistry and business administration.
In addition, contraceptive access significantly contributed to young women’s joining the paid labour force and following professional occupations. That trend was tied to advancements in women’s educational credentials and to the recognition by women and their potential employers that women could pursue a career with far less fear of it being interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy. These changes, in turn, contributed to women’s increased earning power and to a reduction in the long-standing gender gap in pay.
Giving her views on the social benefit child spacing brings, recently at a forum, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Bayero University Kano, Hadiza Galadanci pointed out health and social benefits from using modern contraception.
Stating these benefits, Galadanci said that, family planning also known as child spacing has some effects on maternal health which include; “a reduction in pregnancy related morbidity and mortality, improves birth outcome, reduces prematurity, reduces infant mortality rates and better healthy babies and mothers.
The woman achieves her educational and career goals in life which in turn guarantees economic prosperity.”
Child spacing has an immediate health benefit, she revealed, adding that increasing public sector investments in family planning would enable Nigeria to meet its family planning Blueprint goal of 36 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) by 2020 Nigeria.The feat could save the lives of an additional 22,000 Mothers and also save the lives of an additional 101,000 children.
Despite its countless benefits and dangers of neglecting the usage of child spacing methods such as unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion, among others, many Nigerian women do not use contraceptives.
World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 17.6 million unsafe abortions are carried out in developing countries annually. In Nigeria, the mortality rate is 55 per 100,000 live birth, while in some parts of the country, unsafe abortion accounts for up to 10 – 40 percent of maternal deaths.
Interestingly, use of contraceptives will cut down these ugly figures, the United Nations body says.
Truly, urgent adequate strategic programmes are required to optimise the health and social benefits of contraceptives usage and child spacing among Nigerian women, especially now, as there are emerging issues everyday. Governments must also be challenged to boost investment in funding for family planning, steady access to contraceptives and quality education on use of birth spacing in all health facilities across the country.