Over 5.7 million women and girls now use a modern method of contraception in Nigeria, according to new figures released by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020).
As a result of modern contraceptive use in Nigeria, more than 1.9 million unintended pregnancies were prevented, and 705,000 unsafe abortions and 13,000 maternal deaths averted in the last year.
In a new report titled: “FP2020: The Arc of Progress”, it was revealed that 320 million women and girls were now using modern contraception, an increase of 60 million additional users since 2012.
The report published by FP2020, a global partnership that supports the reproductive rights of women and girls, details the progress achieved in family planning over the past eight years.
With almost 60 percent of its population under the age of 25, the report noted that Africa is the world’s youngest region.
Ensuring that young women and girls have access to a growing range of contraceptive methods has resulted in not only improvements in health-related outcomes such as reduced maternal mortality and infant mortality, but also improvements in schooling and economic outcomes.
The Executive Director of FP2020, Beth Schlachter, said, “The FP2020 partnership has bent the curve of progress sharply upward and responded with the strength to Covid-19. As a result of coordinated partnership over the past eight years, millions of women and girls can now plan their own futures through access to life-changing, and lifesaving, contraceptives. This momentum must be accelerated as the family planning community plans for the future.”
Nigeria was part of the first group of countries to commit to the FP2020 partnership when it launched in 2012.
Since then, the country has made steady progress toward increased uptake of family planning.
As a result of modern contraceptive use in Nigeria, more than 1.9 million unintended pregnancies were prevented, and 705,000 unsafe abortions and 13,000 maternal deaths averted in the last year alone.
In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, injectables have risen to become the most common method in use, displacing less effective short-term methods.
Also in Nigeria, a total of 31,064 community health workers have now been trained to provide a range of contraceptive methods, and in the past 12 months, a Rapid Response Mechanism grant enabled scale-up.
There is a Postpartum Family Planning service provision in Cross River, Nasarawa, and Oyo states, a follow-up to the successful scale-up in Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina states.
Significant progress has been made in Africa, where, as of July, 2020, the number of users of modern methods of contraception had grown by 66% since 2012, from 40 million to more than 66 million women and girls.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, the number of modern contraceptive users has grown by 70 percent since 2012.
In Nigeria, the Minister of Health issued a nationwide statement that the lockdown should not be allowed to curtail the delivery of family planning services.
Marie Stopes International (MSI) also partnered with the Ministry of Health to support 2,600 public health posts to remain open.
When sexual and reproductive healthcare services were classed as essential, the Ministry of Health granted MSI’s mobile outreach teams, which serve primarily rural regions, free movement between states.
This collaboration with the Nigerian government ensured that contraception was not side-lined by the Covid-19 response.
The coordinated effort of the partnership has safeguarded family planning as an essential health service.
This response appears to have largely averted the worst-case scenario; however, more work is needed to mitigate this challenge.
Speak Up When Sexually Abused, Banigo Urges Survivors
Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has said that survivors of sexual abuse must speak up for the perpetrators of the heinous crime to be punished.
Banigo reiterated this during a sensitisation campaign on the theme: “Dealing with Mental Health and Sexual Abuse in Unity Schools”, organized by the Support the Girl Child Initiative Programme of her office at the Federal Government College in Port Harcourt.
Represented by her Senior Special Assistant, Barrister Inegogo Fubara, the deputy governor said the programme was put together because of the importance she attaches to the mental and psychological health of young people, adding that it was part of the commemoration of the World Mental Health Day and the International Day of the Girl Child.
Banigo, who urged the students to take the programme seriously, said they should see the guidance counsellor of the school whenever they were depressed for proper counselling, stressing that they must speak out whenever they face any form of abuse.
“I want you to understand that the fact that you have been sexually abused is not the end of life, there is life after rape, and there is life after sexual abuse. Do not keep quiet about it, even if it was done at home or in school, please speak up”, Banigo added.
According to the deputy governor, “Rape is a criminal offence that is punishable, and the punishment for rape is life imprisonment”.
She said even children could be jailed for rape, adding that for a child, the punishment could be 14 years in imprisonment.
Banigo said in 2018, the Protect the Girl Child Initiative, organized its first Mental and Sexual Abuse seminar at the Federal Government Girls’ College, Abuloma, where links about sexual violence and how to stop it and ensure that the voices of survivors were heard was set up.
According to the her, “At the seminar in Abuloma, a female student who had been violated repeatedly, since she was eight years old, came out, and the Protect the Girl Child Initiative, in the Office of the Deputy Governor was able to take her out of the environment, provided a safe home for her, and ensured that the perpetrator was reported to the police. Today, she is in her 200-level in the university”.
She added that, a similar programme for about 1,300 students was held at Holy Rosary College in 2018, where for the first time, many students understood what it means to be sexually abused, and realised that it was not the end of the world.
In his presentation on the topic, “Depression: How To Recognise And Deal With It”, a Consultant Neuropsychiatrist in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Dr. Chukwuma Oke Afor, said depression has to do with un-controlled sadness, lack of interest in the things the person used to love in the past as well as fatigue.
He also said inability to sleep; having a feeling of hopelessness and the desire to end one’s life are signs of depression, while noting that counselling by a trusted person could help to salvage the situation.
The representative from the Doctors Without Borders, Onyinye Anaba, who spoke on the topic, “Sexual Abuse and Where to find Help”, frowned at the situation whereby victims of sexual abuse are blamed for the crime instead of naming and shaming the perpetrators.
Women Protest, Accuse School Principal Of Extortion
Women of Ovwor community, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, Monday, embarked on a protest against alleged illegal collection of levies by Principal of the Ovwor Mixed Secondary School, Ovwor, Mr Fedelis Okoro.
However, the Principal of the school, Mr Fedelis Okoro who was not in the school during the protest, said; “all the allegations are not true. I am very busy right now, will call you when I am less busy to explain myself.”
The protesters, mostly women who stormed the school’s premises, displaying leaves and chanting songs of grievances, alleged that the school Principal was collecting high admission fees, high MMF fees and refusing to give examination results to students.
Speaking during the protest, women General Secretary of the Community, Mrs Anna Umukoro said; “the school is asking each new student to pay as much as N10,500 for admission, which is outside other things like machetes, brooms, disinfectants, books, soap and others that the children still have to buy before they can be admitted.
“From our findings, the money they are collecting in the school is far more than what other government schools collect for the same admission.
“We want the Principal to explain to us why he is collecting all these levies. Why Ovwor Secondary school admission fee is different from other government schools. We are farmers and struggle to pay what we used to pay but since this Principal resumed, things have gone from bad to worse and we can no longer bear it, that is why we are here.”
Chairman of Parent Staff Association (PSA) of the school, Mr Promise Atimati, alleged: “two years ago we agreed with the school management that parent staff fund should be raised to meet certain needs in the school, such as dilapidated structures and payments for security.
“And we agreed we should employ two security men from the school, the community should pay N15,000 while the school pay N15,000 from the PSA account, but until recently, the principal refused to pay the money, it is the community that is doing the payment.
“He refused to open an account as agreed for the PSA fund. He is the only one just collecting and using the money without giving an account to anybody and we are not seeing what he is spending the money on. So, we are in total support of what the women are doing.”
On his part, President General of Ovwor Community, Mr Vincent Oshokor, said; “before now we have received complaints by the parents that the Principal was collecting some levies not approved by the government.
“When we heard of it, we called the Principal, we invited him for a meeting which he attended and pleaded that we should give him time to address the issue. But to our surprise after the meeting, things went from bad to worse, so we called him severally again for a meeting, but he ignored us.
“So when the women came to me after they had first sought permission from the ‘Otota’ (spokesman) of the community that they needed permission to embark on this peaceful protest, I obliged them because there was nothing more I could do since the Principal has refused all avenues of peaceful discussion.”
Some of the students who spoke to Journalists on condition of anonymity said they were being made to pay levies which their mates in other schools did not pay.
NGO Highlights Importance Of Internet To Women
A non-profit organisation, Developing Women to Survive Empowerment Initiative (DWS), says digitalisation has given more women a voice against abuses.
The Founder of DWS, Mrs Abimbola Onwuchekwa, who stated this in Lagos, yesterday, said that through digitalisation, many more women had been able to speak up against abuses in marriages and other relationships.
Onwuchekwa said that digitalisation had also made it easier for victims of rape to speak out without being stigmatised.
According to her, more women from abused backgrounds have also received cancelling, healing and empowerment and entrepreneurship opportunities through the internet.
She said that women were less exposed to dangers through the internet because many things were being done digitally.
“The internet is more for women because there are opportunities for women on work flexibility and multitasking.
“It creates the ability to acquire and interact with customers, receive training, provide mentorship and eliminate barriers.
‘’Digitalisation helps women to multitask as well as reduce vulnerability and risk of rape,’’ she said.
According to her, DWS has helped women to get healing emotionally, psychologically and physically, leveraging on digitalisation.
She advocated a violence-free and discrimination-free society driven by digitalisation.
The founder also encouraged the media to produce gender transformative contents.
DWS is an online initiative focused on giving women a voice and counselling, and helping them to overcome abuses as well as empowering them.
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