COVID-19: More Deltans Access Family Planning Services

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*Experts urge women to intensify child spacing campaign

By Omon-Julius Onabu

Indications have emerged that more and more people in Delta State are adopting family planning methods, with the number of persons accessing family planning services in urban areas of the state increasing significantly since the COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020.

This came to light at a roundtable on expanding the scope of the campaign for safer and responsible parenting with the theme, “The Role of Women in Family Planning”, held at the weekend in Asaba under the auspices of the Delta Media Forum for Family Planning and in furtherance of this year’s International Women’s Day.

The experts in family planning and participants at the roundtable were agreed on the need for women generally to take more active interest in reproductive health issues, particularly family planning.

The realities of the economic hardship and financial pressure for families, triggered by the COVID-19 restrictions, has apparently opened the eyes of many people in the state to the fact that voluntary adoption of birth control was the way to go in today’s world.

Speaking on the topic, “Family Planning and COVID-19”, an expert, Mrs Patience Abudu, disclosed that whereas her Family Planning unit at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, the Delta State capital, previously recorded an average of 150 clients, the family planning unit received at least 172 clients in April 2020 when there was lockdown in the state.

The figure of persons accessing family planning services rose steadily, forcing the healthcare providers to render home services especially from May of last year with as many as 187 clients to attend to that month, she revealed.

In June, the figure dropped slightly to 177 while it rose even higher to 192 clients in July 2020, Mrs Abudu further said, noting that the situation was similar in many urban areas based on available reports.

According to her, strigent measures including restrictions occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic increased the hardship most people were facing, especially as businesses and commercial activities slowed down remarkably during the period.

Therefore, although increased bonding were apparent among families, the tough times in most homes forced them to toe the line of caution simply to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to maitan a measure of financial discipline, she observed.

Abudu said, “Family planning ensures discipline and proper child spacing, and many families have become aware of this, so they have sought and taken up family planning at the FMC Asaba facility before now.

“However, at the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic and the associated economic challenges, the acceptors of family planning increased at the facility.”

She noted that the modern family planning methods had provided a window of opportunity for every family, especially with women of childbearing age, to plan and ensure proper child spacing and healthy living by adopting globally accepted methods that are appropriate for the couples.

“The real challenge is on how to take the advocacy to the rural communities, to educate the people particularly the women, to enable them do the needful to help themselves”, she further said.

Similarly, Mrs Precious Eke, a Family Planning expert with the Delta State Primary Health Care Development Agency (DSPHCDA), said that adopting family planning remained a wise and helpful choice to enable families to live healthy and happy.

“Practice of controlling the number of children one has using any modern family method is not a limitation but enables couples produce the number of children they can adequately cater for.

“A woman has a lot of role to play in family planning as the one who bears the burden of childbearing and the manager of the family. She needs to stay alive during and after childbearing to manage the home.

“Yes, some men initiate the need to take up the scheme but without the women, it will not be successful. I believe women have to initiate it and ensure they carry their husbands along and if the man agrees, they should seek genuine family planning centres to avoid falling into the hands of quacks.

”Every drug has its side effect just like the methods of family planning, but no side effect of family planning is serious or deadly. So, the uptaker must have the determination to sustain the programme despite the side effects. Besides, service providers take the participants through extensive teaching on family planning methods to allow the person(s) to make a suitable or appropriate choice.”