Nigeria’s population is growing astronomically due to high fertility rates. Yet, the Contraceptive Prevalent Rate, (CPR) target remains as low as 15 percent.
Though, there was a gradual decline in the total fertility rate in the country presently at 5.3 percent from 6.3 percent within the last few years. Which means that, an average Nigerian woman gives birth to at least five children.
Report says, Nigeria takes a huge proportion of about 190 million women globally, who are not using contraceptives despite the desire to space the birth of their children.
The advocacy for more Private Sector Participation (PSP) in providing funds for family planning by either adopting Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) or providing contraceptives to be shared to people that cannot afford it or hard to reach communities.
This concerted effort to increase investment in family planning programmes is geared towards achieving Nigeria’s Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) of 27 percent by 2024.
Meanwhile, Nigeria had failed to meet a global pledge which it made along with other countries in 2012 to achieve an MCPR of 27 percent among all women by 2020. At the dawn of the deadline, FP2020 target indicators showed that the country has only 15 percent MCPR for all women of reproductive age.
The target of 27 percent would help address issues of maternal mortality, sexual reproductive health, and population explosion amongst others.
Health analysts have also linked low CPR to low availability of modern contraception which is mostly seen in developing countries.
Nigeria falls under this category with a huge unmet need for family planning due to the low availability of contraceptives.
Analysts believe that if all unmet needs in Nigeria are met, unintended pregnancies will drop by 77 percent, from 2.5 million to 555,000 per year. Consequently, the annual number of unplanned births would be decreased from 885,000 to 200,000 and the number of abortions would drop from 1.3 million to 287,000.
To avert this unpleasant scenario, reproductive health experts have pointed that unless the government and relevant stakeholders take deliberate steps to change the narrative, Nigeria is far from achieving its set CPR target.
They noted that there was a gradual decline in the the total fertility rate in the country is presently at 5.3 percent from 6.3 percent within the last few years.
In view of the gaps, it was not surprising that the FP2020 global commitments on the family planning process have been extended to 2030 after a global review.
Contrary to the FP2020 and to close existing gaps, the FP2030 would shift its focus to the sub-national; the states and local government areas and carry the youths, women, and media along.
It would also reflect the country-led and country driven mandate of the new partnership and strengthen accountability and transparency of government, donors, and other partners.
There is an urgent need for Nigeria to attain four percent fertility rate, accessible and relevant massive investment in healthcare, relevant education, create an enabling environment for businesses to boost foreign direct investment, and create room for civility, fairness and equity.
Nigeria can only achieve four percent fertility rate if the country does all the aforementioned things deliberately and sustainably for the next 20 years.
Nigeria’s growth rate of 2.6 percent which is double the world average of 1.2 percent is also believed to be worsened by poor contraceptives use.
Consequently, there is also a critical need for contraceptive use to be prioritised for Nigeria to reach at least 27 percent usages by 2025. Nigeria must look for resources domestically to fund family planning.
The Federal Government funds family planning in two ways: through counterpart funding and budgetary allocations.
Unfortunately, the latter has been reduced by 40 percent, while the former recorded zero last year due to the pandemic.
Equally saddening, Nigeria’s public revenue to GDP ratio is around the lowest in the world and consequently, the country’s health budget is also one of the lowest in the world as well.
With low and declining fiscal revenues over time, Nigeria needs to earmark more money for the health sector.
Family Planning must be made more of an economic issue, while governments at all levels should be encouraged to release funds for its services.
Until Nigeria makes family planning a legislative agenda, the country might not make headway. Private Sector Participants can be given tax breaks if they support family planning to encourage more companies to support. The country must explore available resources and advocate for more funds for family planning.
Nigeria must stop relying on foreign donations and look inwards. The time is now as many donor countries like the United Kingdom have stopped or greatly reduced giving aid towards family planning services. The time has come for Nigeria to look inwards and apply homegrown solutions to this problem.