On the Federal Government’s Intention to Introduce Child-Limit Policy…

At the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit, hosted in the Capital City, Abuja, the Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed had noted that owing to challenges posed by the country’s ever-increasing population, the Federal Government had begun to interrogate relevant stakeholders in order to work on a policy which would limit the number of children that a Nigerian mother could have.The revised version of the World Population Prospects puts Nigeria as the most populous African country and the 7th in the world. In fact, the United Nations Department of Economy and Social Affairs (2017) states, “Among the ten largest countries worldwide, Nigeria is growing the most rapidly.” It projected that, at a current population of 198 million people with an urban population of 6.5% average annual growth rate, Nigeria is primed to surpass the United States to become the third largest country in the world before 2050.


Findings have revealed that, in many Nigerian states, despite the level of awareness and advocacy carried out towards creating awareness for family planning, there is still quite a low receptiveness among women to FP methods, let alone, the modern FP methods. Poverty, ignorance, lack of trust in the system, traditional and religious beliefs which favour high fertility and large family systems along with poor access to services and commodities, conflicts, poor coordination of the FP-related programmes and so on are some of the issues that have been related to the low prevalence rate especially among people at the grassroots. This means that now more than ever, the Nigerian government has to begin to interrogate ways of intensifying Family Planning among its population. Perhaps a child-limit policy might do what other measures previously undertaken, could not?


In the late 70s, in an attempt to combat overpopulation, the Central Government of China introduced a strict “one child” policy and even engaged measures such as forceful abortions on people who violated this law. Recent tides in the country have seen the Chinese government relax on its strictness by abolishing the policy and allowing married couples to have two children.


The year 2017 in India brought about the occurrence of child restriction discussions. Varying from state to state, the government introduced a population policy which barred couples, mostly politicians from having more than two children. Those who violated were banned from getting government jobs and benefits or even contesting in local body elections. This was perhaps an attempt to encourage ordinary citizens to subscribe to this idea by forcing political heads and aspirants to lead by example. Even though the Indian government modified its own policy to guide against the negative consequences that resulted from China’s one-child policy, it is still quite a controversial topic in the country.

Photo Credit: UNICEF

In a deeply cultural and religious society as ours, the Federal Government will have to pull out the big guns if it intends to introduce a child-limit policy. Engaging traditional rulers in the discourse as disclosed by the Minister of Finance is a smart move and will help to better reach people in local communities who have allegiance to their traditional authorities. Religious authorities are also pivotal to ensuring the success of such a policy; this is because of the influence they wield especially in matters as delicate as these.


Involving the civil society in this campaign, in my opinion, will help to push it to the precipice of success faster than any other measure could. These organisations have the human capacity to organise massive campaigns at the local, state and regional levels while ensuring adequate citizens participation. Because of the level of trust that nongovernmental organisations, especially those at the grassroots command with regards to people in hard-to-reach communities, they may stand a better chance of convincing people of the need to engage FP methods such as a child-limit policy introduced by the government.


Now, adoption of plans and policies are not novel in Nigeria, since the late 80s, FG has, in a bid to solve reproductive health challenges, adopted and implemented many, part of which were the National Population Policy for Development, National Reproductive Health Policy and Strategic Plans, National Reproductive Health Commodity Security Strategic Plans, and National Guidelines on Contraceptive Logistics Management System, the Millennium Development Goals and the ongoing Sustainable Development Goals. However, whatever decisions or policies FG intends to come up with henceforth, the limited financial and physical access to high-quality health services and commodities is an issue that needs to be addressed. At federal, state and local levels, discussions around the increase in FP funding have to be prioritized.


This essentially is the role of NNNGO-PAS regarding FP. The program works to promote family planning across Lagos state and ultimately, across the country, by advocating for a renewed emphasis on FP service and delivery. The NNNGO-PAS team, engages policymakers, Civil Society Organisations working in the FP space and other relevant stakeholders in the state to advocate for increased funding for FP in order to ensure its goal of enhancing the visibility, availability, and quality of family planning services for increased contraceptive use; and, ultimately, improve the quality of life and pace of development across the country.


In China and India, the nationwide family planning measures undertaken were heavily criticized at home and abroad especially in view of the negative ripple effect it caused (in China) but there is no gainsaying the fact that in order to rescue Nigeria from the clutches of extreme population, enabled by overpopulation and to ensure the successful implementation of the country’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals, drastic family planning measures have to be taken.

Experts Call on Government and Stakeholders to Improve Reproductive Healthcare across the Country

ABUJA, Nigeria October 12, 2018 –The need to improve service delivery, availability and access to Family Planning (FP), for the majority of women across Nigeria, has once again been reiterated by public sector officials, Academics and Civil Society representatives working in the area of reproductive health and family planning in Nigeria.


This was the consensus at a One-day Leadership Training for Family Planning Focal Persons organised on October 12, 2018, by the Development Research and Projects Center (dRPC), under the PACFAH@Scale program with the aim of strengthening the leadership skills and competencies of participants so that they could champion FP issues and needs within the state system.


Speaking at the event, Greg Izuwa, Deputy Director, Reproductive Division, Federal Ministry of Health noted that scores of Nigerian women of reproductive age clamour for access to FP services but the program’s capacity in the country is highly inadequate to meet their needs, therefore it is imperative for everyone concerned to work together with the government so that these challenges can be mitigated.


“The Nigerian Government has, through the Federal Ministry of Health put in place a policy of free family planning information, services and commodities to family planning clients at public health facilities across the country,” said Mr Izuwa. This will help to address inaccessibility owing to ignorance and poverty mostly experienced by underprivileged Nigerian women. He added that select private health facilities are equally being supported with government’s free commodities to enable them to provide family planning services at very subsidized fees to willing clients.


“There are no systematic studies to determine the policy advocacy inclusions and exclusions in the family planning documents that abound in the public health space in Nigeria,” said Dr Aderibigbe Adedeji, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Ilorin. He surmised that in order to achieve 27% modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), there needs to be a thorough interrogation of existing policies in order to map how they can better address the needs of the people.


According to Joyce Ahmadu, a gender expert who spoke at the event, “there is need to propose policy actions to strengthen gender integration in future policy development processes” She identified that due to the gender specificity of family planning, government should explore gender-focused research and analysis of norms that affect health-seeking behaviours and health outcomes of women/girls and men/boys in order to arrive at effective interventions targeted at the specific issues. She said this is in response to the identification of gender gaps which came up during an assessment of policies and documents on child and family health in Nigeria.


She, therefore, recommended that policymakers should develop and include gender-sensitive results and indicators to guide the monitoring and evaluation of gender equality, disaggregate gender data at all levels and budget line for gender-related interventions as well as engage stakeholder from the government, CSO and INGOs with gender expertise in the policy development process.


NNNGO-PAS’s Program Officer, Ayo Adebusoye, one of the participants noted: “The conference helped to shape the thoughts and actions of CSO representatives who participated such that we now understand how best to leverage on our individual strengths while working together as a team in order to achieve optimal results”. He concluded that learning to work in synergy with other FP champions within the state and across the country is key to achieving family planning targets.

Reviewing the Costed Implementation Plan for Routine Immunization in Lagos State.

LAGOS, Nigeria –/ A fully immunized child is one who has received the complete doses of the standard six antigens – BCG, Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis (DTP) (3 doses), polio (3 doses), and measles vaccines. Globally, there are about 19.5million un/under-immunized children with 18% of them live in Nigeria.


A survey conducted in 2017 using a Multi Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) showed that only about 23% of children in Nigeria were fully immunized in the last one year leaving 77% not fully immunized. In addition, statistics from the National Immunization Coverage Survey (NICS) 2017 for Lagos State showed that 68% of children aged 12-23 months received full immunization. This implies that although RI coverage in Lagos is impressive, there is still a lot more work to be done to achieve 100% coverage with the intention of leaving no child behind.


Understanding the critical role civil society organisations can play in attaining the 100% coverage goal for RI in Lagos State, NNNGO-PAS, following up on a civil society mapping exercise in March 2018, organised a strategy meeting with the Lagos State Accountability Mechanism (LASAM) on Friday 21, 2018 to review the costed implementation work plan for RI in Lagos State and to identify areas for advocacy. Organising a strategy meeting at this time was therefore not simply timely, but key to ensuring effective implementation of the RI costed implementation plan in Lagos state especially as governments begin preparations for 2019 RI year.


“We must begin to articulate more focused areas of advocacy that would improve RI funding and coverage in Lagos State now and in the coming year-2019” said Oyebisi, B. Oluseyi, NNNGO-PAS Program Director, who noted that part of the objectives of the meeting was to engage meaningfully with government and other critical stakeholders through a technical review of the costed implementation plan for RI in Lagos State, new domestic funding schemes and conduct feasibility updates on same.


Ayo Adebusoye, NNNGO-PAS Programs Officer further explained that the meeting also aimed at identifying capacity gaps amongst accountability mechanisms in the State, setting the foundation for addressing identified gaps with a view to strengthening and amplifying civil society’s voice on RI issues.


As with many other states in the country, issues of inadequate financing for routine immunization and untimely releases is playing out strongly in Lagos, a State that prides itself as a centre of excellence. History proves that these issues have plagued reproductive health for a long time. A report released by InfoGuide Nigeria in May 2018, noted that “vaccines have always been problematic for Nigeria primarily because funds are insufficient or were not released on time”.


The aforementioned roadblocks to RI service provision and delivery are compounded by inadequate cold chain infrastructure, weak preventive maintenance system of cold chain systems leading to rapid and continuous breakdown, inadequate supportive supervision, weak monitoring and lack of data for action as well as the slow integration of private providers in RI service delivery.


Needless to say, there is an urgent need to intensify advocacy for a sustained increase in allocation to RI and timely release of such funds. Specifically, critical stakeholders must begin to tackle these issues by ensuring that governments fulfil their commitments to RI with emphasis on adequate funding.


The Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) is the first generic membership body for civil society organisations in Nigeria that facilitates effective advocacy on issues of poverty and other developmental issues. Established in 1992, NNNGO represents over 3495 organisations ranging from small groups working

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