The Federal Government has been tasked to allocate adequate resources for the procurement and access to contraceptive commodities for women across Nigeria to address the challenge of poor maternal care, mortality and morbidity.
The call by health experts and civil society organisations comes as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark World Contraceptive Day.
Speaking at a press conference to mark the day, Communications Lead, Marie Stopes International, Ogechi Onuha said an estimated 18.9 percent of contraceptive needs in Nigeria remains unmet, a situation she said could negatively affect the sexual and reproductive health of Nigerian women.
Onuoha recalled that the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey Report, (NDHS) indicated that about 35percent of women in Nigeria require family planning services but only about 16.2percent have their needs met.
‘The total demand for contraceptives among married women in Nigeria according to the (NDHS 2018) is 35.5percent. 16.2% of that figure is using conceptive while 18.9% of that demand is yet to be met,’’ she explained.
She lamented that many women do not know what contraceptive options are available to them, while the wrong perception of the side effects of contraceptive methods has kept many away from accessing services.
While stressing that the available budget is not enough to address unmet demands, she explained that support from donor agencies will go a long way to supplement available resources.
Onuoha also tasked the government to vote resources to sexuality education for young adults to demystify the social, religious and cultural taboos around family planning.
‘‘Nigerians discuss sex in hushed tones, because of the stigma and embarrassment around it, young persons and even adults are not very open about their sexual health,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Country Director, Love Matters Naija, Mrs Alu Azege said access to quality contraceptive services and information must be treated as a human right as it affects and saves the lives of women and girls.
Mrs Azege lamented that the knowledge of family planning methods among women of reproductive age has not translated to the uptake of contraceptive services, hence the poor maternal health indices in the country.
She explained that there is a need for women to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health, which will help in planning and spacing of their children’s births.
‘’Our mission is to let our Nigerian women know that every pregnancy should be one that is planned, wanted, loved and cherished. That way, we engender a happy and prosperous society.
“Contraceptive issues do not favour young people in Nigeria. Unmarried adults most times face discrimination when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights,” he said.
The World Contraceptive Day is marked every 26th September to raise awareness about birth control and remind adults and adolescents the need to make informed choices about their reproductive health.