Health Experts Call for Increased Family Planning Patronage among Young Nigerians

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Martins Ifijeh

Health experts have called on young Nigerians, especially adolescents between 10 to 19 years to patronize family planning methods.

The State Coordinator, Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth, Abiodun Ajayi, during a field visit to Apapa urged service providers in that area to generate the data of young persons that seek reproductive health services in Apapa with a view to improve access to family planning services and their uptake.

These came to light during the field visit to Ijora Flagship Primary Health Centre (PHC) by members of the Media Advocacy Working (Group) in partnership with Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI). Both groups are supported by Pathfinder International Nigeria, a global non-profit organisation that focusses on reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDs prevention and care, and maternal health.

Ijora PHC is one of the facilities under Apapa Local Government Council (LGC)
Based on investigation that the number of young persons who seek family planning services from Apapa was very low, Ajayi who is also the assistant secretary of PHSAI said, “There should be a separate record to show how many young persons come for reproductive health services. Some of them are sexually active and they need contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies.”

According to data from the National HIV & AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey (NARHS) 2014, the median age for sex debut in Nigeria is 17 years. Available data also shows that there was initiation of sexual intercourse, sometimes at the age of 10. “Most sexually active adolescents do not practice contraception with the resultant effect of high level of unwanted pregnancy and illegal abortion.

Based on this background, Ajayi advocated using family planning champions under Apapa to reach out to many young persons in the area with a view to educate and counsel them on abstinence from sex and the use of contraceptives by sexually active persons to prevent unintended pregnancies and illegal abortion.

According to the Medical Officer of Health in Apapa, Dr. Kehinde Ososanya who was represented by Dr. Folashade Iyanda, there was robust family planning services under Apapa including Ijora community. “The turn up of clients accessing available services was high and family planning commodities are available.”

On the role of the Lagos State Government, he said the Apapa Local Government provided N10,000 imprest with which consumables were bought. Some of the consumables purchased with the imprest include Jik, savlon, cotton, injection needles, among others. Although, the imprest was not provided monthly and available fund was not sufficient to purchase sufficient consumables that would last for a month, the officer in charge of Apapa often stepped in to fill the gap by lending the PHC N10,000 whenever there was a shortage of consumables.

On her part, the Family Planning Manager of Ijora PHC, Mrs Patience Ihejirika said to avert shortage of consumables, a factor that hindered steady access to family planning services, the Apapa Local Government Council needed N50,000 monthly to enable it provide uninterrupted consumables. “At the Ijora PHC alone, providers saw an estimated 300 to 350 clients monthly in the four PHCs under Apapa, suggesting that an estimated N200,000 was needed for consumables in the four PHCs under Apapa LGC.

Furthermore, Ihejirika said challenges arising from complaints by clients that experience side -effects, were promptly addressed for those that turn up at the PHCs.