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Nigeria declares family planning as human right

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In continuation of its efforts to ensure that every family in Nigeria is well-planned, the Federal Government has declared family planning as human rights.

The declaration was made on Monday July 9 in Abuja at a press briefing to mark this year’s World Population Day.

With the declaration, apart from the fact Nigeria aligns with the rest of the world to promote family planning, it is believed that socio-cultural barriers preventing couples, especially women from making informed family planning choices will begin to stop.

The theme for this year commemoration is “Family Planning is a Human Right.”

Only a small percentage of the nation space their births, resulting in increasingly high population growth, poverty, unemployment, overstretching of infrastructures, high rate of dependency ratio in population, crimes among others.

“This day provides an opportunity for us as a nation to reflect on efforts made over the five decades to empower the relevant population groups to exercise this right,” said Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC) Eze Duruiheoma who addressed newsmen.

“Basic human right to reproductive choices encompasses two other human rights. Right to information about and access to contraception, education and the means to determine the number and spacing of children and right to decide freely the number and spacing of children without any coercion or compulsion and discrimination.

“The extent to which this right is promoted and exercised explains the impact of fertility on the social wellbeing of the population, particularly of women, adolescent girls/young people and infants.

“Nigeria’s population has increased significantly, from 56 million in 1952 to 88.9 million in 1991, reached 140 million in 2006 and with an annual growth rate 3.2 percent (derived at 2006 Population and Housing Census), currently is estimated at over 198 million. In addition, the United Nations predicts (based on medium variant) that the population will reach 264 million by 2030, and by 2050 will become the 3rd most populous nation in world at 410 million. If the current growth rate persists will in 2100 reach 794 million.

“The socio-demographic outcomes of the limited or non-exercise of this important Basic Human Rights by the “Right Holders” resulted in our high sustained total fertility rate of 5.5 (averagely six children per Nigerian women) fueled by stagnation of modern Contraceptive Prevalent Rate (mCPR) of 10 percent over the last two decades with unmet need for family planning at 16 percent (2013 NDHS),” he added.

According to him, achievement of family planning as a right rests on information, education and means to exercise the right to reproductive freedom, to responsibly determine when to start reproduction, the number and spacing of children.

He added that unmet need for family planning arises from inequality in-access to information or services, limited choices of contraceptives and lack of sufficient support from partners and communities, thus inhibiting the exercising of this right.

“Government is responsible, accountable and central to providing individuals/couples/parents with adequate/quality/timely/appropriate information, education, resources and services to enable the voluntary exercise of this right without any coercion. Exercising this right will result in “responsible Parenthood; improve maternal health and that of the newborn. It will contribute to accelerated economic growth and prosperity,” stated.

He said family planning and birth spacing is the first and right step to population management, central to saving the lives of women and adolescent girls. He explained further that family planning is a key to poverty reduction, pathway to achieving demographic dividend; fundamental for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and strategic for national progress.

In a remark, Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, Dr Ejike Oji, said the nation is facing many challenges following large percentage of its population that are dependent and are very young without decent jobs.

He appealed to families and government to take family planning issues more serious, according to him, it will help in family and nation’s prosperity and wellbeing.

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