By The Society For Media Advocacy On Health, Nigeria
To meet the 2024 target Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) many experts have recommended the use of counselling in family planning as a critical tool to guide clients to make informed and well-considered voluntary choices about their fertility.
These include informed choices concerning the number of children the clients want and when to have them.
An informed choice is defined as a voluntary choice or decision, based on the knowledge of all available information relevant to the choice or decision.
In order to allow people to make an informed choice about family planning, you must make them aware of all the available methods, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
They should know how to use the chosen method safely and effectively, as well as understanding possible side-effects.
Nigeria commenced aggressive family planning communication campaign, which included counselling as a method of increasing modern contraceptive use and reduce the country’s high burden of maternal mortality rate in 2012.
Precisely, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) conducted a study on barriers to utilisation of family planning among Nigerian couples.
The study identified the need for a high-impact intervention through the use of aggressive family planning communication campaign methods to strengthen the use of family planning across the country.
This is aimed at using counselling and aggressive social behaviour methods to fill the gap in family planning communication and change attitudes.
The objective was for government and health-related non-governmental organisations to embark on series of awareness campaigns targeted at taking the message of the importance of family planning across Nigerian homes in towns and villages.
Truly, having the right information on the types of contraceptives for child spacing available for use is capable of increasing the country’s CPR and curb unintended pregnancies as well as unsafe abortion.
Family planning and child spacing information and services are always life-saving and important, especially during emergencies. it is, therefore, crucial to ensure that people are able to access rights-based services and information to initiate and continue the use of child spacing commodities as the COVID-19 pandemic rages. Sexual activity does not cease during emergencies.
By preventing unplanned pregnancies, family planning helps to protect girls and women from the negative health consequences of such pregnancies, which can save their lives.
Family planning reduces the need for abortion, meaning that women and girls are less at risk of unsafe abortion, which again can be lifesaving.
Child spacing can help alleviate additional pressure on already-stretched health systems which are working hard to address COVID-19.
Couples who want to avoid pregnancy during emergencies should use the contraceptive method of choice. Access to information on child spacing services from a healthcare provider can be done by phone or online.
Similarly, such a couple may opt for a back-up method that is available without a prescription (such as condoms, spermicides, pills, or emergency contraceptive pills) from a nearby pharmacy or drug shop.
Indeed, it is the responsibility of family planning managers to always ensure adequate inventory to avoid potential stock-outs at all levels of the health system, even under emergencies.
Also, they should prepare advisories for users on how to access contraceptive information, counselling, and services; monitor contraceptive consumption in your area to identify any potential pitfall and shortage.
It is important to increase availability and access to contraceptives that can be used by the client without a service provider support such as pills during emergencies.
Planning and developing innovative counselling strategies to ensure that as many eligible persons as possible can access information and contraception as the pandemic rages is essential.
Furthermore, it is important to expand the availability of contraceptive services (including both information and methods) through places other than healthcare facilities, such as pharmacies, drug shops, online platforms, and other outlets.
There should be an increase in the use of mobile phones and digital technologies to help people make decisions about which contraceptive methods to use, and how they can be accessed.
Despite the ugly impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s health systems, meeting demands for child spacing information by women of reproductive age should be a priority for the country to achieve its CPR target of 27 percent by 2024.
The CPR which is ‘the percentage of women of reproductive age who are currently using, or whose sexual partner is currently using, at least one contraceptive method, regardless of the method used, is often reported for women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union.
The global community has set a new target that by 2024 for more people around the world to be able to plan their families and their future through the help of family planning.
In line with this global commitment, Nigeria also set a target to increase its CPR from 17 percent to 27 percent by 2024.
Counselling is a crucial tool to achieve effective population control and the country’s CPR target.