By The Society for Media Advocacy on Health, Nigeria
The United Nations (UN) recognises the importance of family planning in population control, poverty reduction, improved health, and human development Research has shown that failure to sustain family planning programmes, especially among the poor will lead to increased population growth and poorer health indices worldwide.
Indeed, robust family planning services are believed to provide a range of benefits, which are improved maternal and infant health, nutrition as well as help individuals acquire better educational attainment.
Further, it enhances the status of girls and women at home, prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and promotes environmental conservation efforts.
Family planning is a prerequisite for attaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Target 3.7 which calls on countries to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes by 2030.
In order to curtail population growth which puts women and children at the risk of poverty, contraceptives have been used as an effective tool in this regard.
The need to key into family planning services as a strategy to reduce poverty becomes imperative when people are aware of the level of poverty in Nigeria.
Only in May last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report on poverty and inequality indicated that 40 percent of people in Nigeria lived below its poverty line of N137,430 or ($381.75) a year. The report noted that the figure represents 82.9 million people of the country’s estimated 206 million population.
The report similarly highlighted that rapid population growth in the country outstrips economic growth, which stands at about two percent.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that Nigeria’s population would be 400 million by 2050. There is no doubt that if this projection comes to pass, it could worsen the economic woes of a majority of the populace that are caught in the poverty circle.
To avert this, experts believe that family planning services could be effectively used to prevent exponential growth of the population, but simultaneously reducing poverty for individuals, couples, and families that key into the initiative.
At the macro level, a study of selected developing countries show that the growth rate of per capita GDP is dependent on population growth and age dependency ratio.
In addition to the influence of population growth on income and poverty, a study by Allen shows the association between population growth and negative health outcomes such as high maternal and infant mortality, especially among the poor.
A new Guttmacher Institute study, which reviews 66 studies conducted over the past 30 years, also confirmed that family planning can improve the economy of families.
According to the findings of the study, women’s ability to use contraceptives, and to determine whether and when to have children enhance their education and employment chances. This, in turn, improves their income, family stability, mental health, and happiness, as well as the well-being of their children.
Furthermore, contraceptive use reduces maternal mortality, improves women’s health by preventing unplanned and high-risk pregnancies as well as reducing the need for unsafe abortions.
In addition, family planning can help women to avoid too early and too late pregnancies and avoid pregnancies when they are vulnerable because of ill health, their youth, or old age.
Nigeria’s population has continued to grow astronomically and it is not at pace with economic growth. Such an imbalance between population size and economic development would inevitably have a negative impact on the well-being of the nation. Interestingly, family planning is one of the strategies which are proving to be effective in tackling these problems. This is the reason those who know the advantages promptly adopt the initiative to better their lot and that of their families.
Equally, among the advantages is that family planning could enable users to regain their health after delivery while giving enough time and opportunity for women to pay more attention to their husbands and children.
Not only would a woman give more time for her family, and to personal advancement, she could have enough time for treatment and recovery during illness.
Moreover, the use of contraception prevents pregnancy-related health risks for women, especially for adolescent girls. When births are separated by less than two years, the infant mortality rate is 45 percent higher than it is when births are two to three years according to the World Health Organisation(WHO). Further, the World health body reports that infant mortality is 60 percent higher than it is when births are four or more years apart. Unarguably, using family planning could ultimately cut poverty as well as boost the wellbeing of users and their families.