Advocates formal education to ensure informed decision
The Federal Commissioner, National Population Commission (NPopC) Barrister Abimbola Salu-Hundeyin recently expressed regrets about the high rate of premarital sex among Nigerian adolescents and therefore charged them to get formal education to enable them make informed decision.
Barrister Salu-Hundeyin raised this concern at an Intergenerational Dialogue, an event, organised by the NPopC in conjunction with the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative 2, with a theme: “Family Planning is a Human Right” to mark the 2018 World Population Day in Lagos. Other participants included Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos State Ministry of Health, InterFaith Groups, Traditional Heads and Youths.
Speaking at the event, she told the youths that family planning is the key to prosperity, but it is premature for them to begin to engage in premarital sex. She charged the youths to plan their lives by going through formal education.
“By the time they go through education, they will learn that when a woman is pregnant she will go for antenatal; when she has her baby, she will take the baby through all the vaccines. They will be able to know this is how much we are earning and this is what we can afford and then space their children for convenience.
Salu-Hundeyin maintained that this is the only way for them to plan their lives and not by engaging in sexual activity at young age.
Speaking further, she said: “According to the last NDHS in 2014, majority of our girls become sexually active at the age of 15 years while the boys get involved at 18 years. When they get sexually involved at such a very young age, especially for the girls, it has dire consequences.’’
In an interview with Nigeria Health Online, the Hon. Federal Commissioner urged parents to space their children for health and financial reasons and also for proper care for their children as well.
She stressed: “Bringing up children goes beyond financial needs, it is also meeting their psychological and emotional needs and you need time for all these. You don’t just bring in a life and dump the life in to the world, you must be able to follow up your child, know what the child is doing, what the teachers are saying about your child, who your child’s friends are in the street and these things take your time and if you have too many children, it will not be easy for you to divide your time.
The NPopC commissioner said the commission was doing a lot to get everyone involved to address the situation, especially by getting people to accept family planning.
“We also try to talk to parents because sometimes we have some cultural beliefs that do not help family planning. We dissuade them and let them see what the government is doing to bring reproductive health facilities closer to people. We also ask state governments to establish more reproductive health facilities and centres so that people can have access to them.
“Family Planning should be readily accessible to anybody who wants it because 5o years ago in Tehran, it was declared by the United Nation as a right, though it was stressed that it must be exercised responsibly.
“This is because if you have more than you can train, you are bringing more vices to the community and country than the advantages the child should give to us,” Salu-Hundeyin said.
Also, Mrs Rashidat Umar, Youth Development Officer, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos State, stated that the age at which young people are engaging in sexual activity is becoming low. That is why she wants them to have access to information in order to make the right decision. According to her, family planning is not only about taking services but also to get right information.
Also speaking to NHO, Mr Akin Jimoh, Programme Director, Development Communications Network (DevComs) said family planning had a lot of linkages. He noted that it goes beyond pills, injectibles and condoms. He said it is the core of our development because it has linkage to population, maternal and child health. Jimo therefore charged parents to talk to their children because sexuality actually starts at a young age.
“The children are curious; they want to know things and changes about their bodies and they must be given the right information to prevent mistakes and being victims,’’ Jimoh advised.