• Stakeholders call for inclusion of men in planning process

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Country Representative of United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Diene Keita, has called on the federal government to improve its annual budgetary allocation to Family Planning (FP) and Reproductive health.

This is coming as stakeholders called for the inclusion of men in the family planning processes.

Keita made this call in Abuja at the Nigerian Health Watch Forum 2018 with the theme: ‘The Elephant in the Room, Men as Change Agents in the Family Planning Discourse’.

She said that the estimated sum of $8-10 million budgeted for FP is poor despite commendable government efforts.

“Nigerian Government needs to do more as only about $8-10 million is expended on Family Planning whereas India spends over $1 billion annually. Sometimes also it may not be about money but to ensure that the environment is right,” she said.

Speaking further, Keita said there is need for strong inclusion of men in family planning process so as to get the necessary result in the country.

She also agreed with other stakeholders that men are strong agents in the family planning discourse.

The UNFPA Representative disclosed that Nigeria has contributed to 40 per cent of the global burden of maternal death.

“We need to reduce the high level of maternal mortality in the country, as everyday 110 die while giving birth. We will ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, and every potential of each child is being fulfilled,” she said.

She so emphasised on the need to educate the men folk about family planning and not leave only the women to take important decisions regarding her reproductive issues in the family.

“We need to sensitise our men, and educate them on the importance of family planning, so they can be able to have children that they can easily manage, based on the economic situation of the country at the moment,” she added.

Keita charged stakeholders in the health sectors to reach out to men residing in the rural areas as a large percentage of them do not have the necessary information about family planning issues.

In the same vein, the Country Director of Marie Stopes, Dr. Effiom Effiom, explained that strategic interventions have not been put in place to promote men’s participation in family planning issues.

“We should start seeing men as advocates for family planning, and see how they can play a greater role in this regard, and we have to be consistent to get a visible result,” Effiom said.

According to him, stakeholders in the health sector should start seeing family planning as a health issue, and see it as a means of increasing economic power in the society.

“It will serve as a means of promoting gender balance, improve on sexual and reproductive health, and also reduce maternal mortality rate in the country.”

Effiom further stressed the need for strong inclusion of men in family planning services.

“Men’s involvement in this process is very critical as it will help in national development, as the male folk from developing countries do not like discussing about some of the issues.

“Couples that normally discuss about family planning will most likely use the family planning procedures, so it often advised to communicate about the process.”

The country representative of Marie Stopes also recommended that family planning training should be extended to men’s association and group where they have a large number of male folk as members.

“It has to be discussed in the public sphere so that all men will know that the issue really affects them, and not think that it is the women’s hand work alone.

“If men are being taught the basic rudiments of family planning, they will respond better, and the whole family will be at Peace.”