BY PAtIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, abuja
As Nigeria’s population continues to soar, stakeholders have expressed worry that the country may be heading for a demographic crisis.
Nigeria’s current population is over 200million based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. The UN projects that Nigeria’s population will double by the end of 2050.
Though family planning has been identified as key to addressing this looming crisis, LEADERSHIP checks revealed that budgets for family planning are either not released, released late.
The Nigerian government had in 2012, committed to 27per cent modern contraceptive prevalence by 2020. However, modern contraceptive prevalence rate remains at 14 per cent, Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), Dr Ejike Orji, told LEADERSHIP that funding for family planning is inadequate, adding that so far, donors and international partners are the ones providing the funds.
He noted that Nigeria was heading for a demographic crisis unless fertility rate is reduced and controlled, citing prioritisation and increased funding for family planning programmes as the first line of actions.
He also said that Nigeria’s modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) was still at 14 percent, even though the federal government had promised to achieve 27 per cent among women by 2020, indicating about 50 per cent gap.
“We promised the world in the London summit of 2012 that we will get our mCPR to 27 percent by the year 2020, but now the rate remains at 14per cent,” he noted.
Ejike, therefore, urged the federal government to apply the same result-based management approaches used in the Covid-19 fight to family planning programming in the country.
According to him, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for family planning keeps increasing. “As health systems shift to prevent and treat people with COVID-19, it is essential they also protect access to family planning services,” he said.
He also noted that young people are not being carried along in population control programmes. “There is an attempt to carry them along but they are not carried along. We have not been purposeful and truly involved in it but it is sad because the children who will drive our population to 450 million by 2050 are already born.
“Even if we stop procreation now and continue with the present level of fertility, we will drive our population and that makes it urgent,’ he said.
Meanwhile, minister of finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has restated the federal government’s commitment to funding child spacing and the health sector as part of its strategic plan to improve human capital development and foster a productive citizenry.
The minister stated this when she hosted a delegation of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria under the Partnership for Advocacy in family and child health at Scale, PACFaH@Scale, in her office on Friday.
She assured the delegation that her ministry will always prioritise the health sector’s funding, especially on issues bordering on the multilateral agreement and other commitments Nigeria has entered into.
While urging advocates also to improve their advocacy work around utilisation and efficiency relating to funds released, she assured that Nigeria would continue to improve the health sector’s funding, as can be seen since the assumption of office of this current administration.
Earlier, the head of the delegation, Dr. Minnie Oseji, who is the president, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, briefed the minister on the association’s ongoing International Conference and called on the federal government to support the funding of the health sector.
“From the 2017 and 2021 national budget, N6.8 billion has been allocated to family planning, out of which N3.6 billion was released. What was observed was that not all funds allocated were released, especially in 2017 and 2018, where 93 per cent and 33 per cent of the fund allocated were released, respectively. Also, the N809 million allocated in the 2021 fiscal year has not been released. Recall that the N900 million funding gap for 2019 was proposed to be released from the Service Wide Vote (SWV),” said Oseji.
She, therefore, called for the release of allocations to enable the achievement of targets set by the administration under local and international bilateral and multilateral agreements.