The Guttmacher Institute estimated that 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in Nigeria in 2012, equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1,000 women among women aged 15 to 49 years. It has, however, been shown that if adopted and used appropriately, family planning can prevent at least 34 per cent maternal deaths. APPOLONI A ADEYEMI reports
Before Mr. Daniel Oyekanmi, 45-year-old commercial motorcycle rider, also called an ‘okada’ rider, got married to his heartthrob four years ago, he was determined to have two children only.
He had engaged his wife, Aishat in conversations severally during their years of courtship, on the need to keep to this plan. As far as Oyekanmi is concerned, this plan is his own way to deviate from the style of his father, the now late Oyekanmi Snr and polygamist who married up to eight wives.
The mother of Oyekanmi, was the third wife while the commercial motorcyclist was the fifth of nine children from his own mother.
The number of children from the late Oyekanmi Snr was 35 and based on his meagre income from home-based farming, living while growing up in the rural areas of Ikare in Ondo State was tough.
Speaking further on the ordeal of his childhood days, the motorcyclist lamented that due to poverty, he missed out on formal education as neither his late father nor his mother could afford to send him to school. It is for this reason that he ended up as a commercial motorcyclist from which he ekes out a living for himself and his family.
Based on the religious background of Oyekanmi’s wife, the plan to make do with two children only did not go down well with her. For Aisha, the whole idea of having two children only was strange.
She had initially suggested to her hubby that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to have up to five children, but efforts to convince her husband failed.
However, Aisha finally agreed to go with the two children plan. Considering her own background as well, Aisha, also had missed out on formal education, but ended up as a petty trader, dealing in the buying and selling of agricultural produce including pepper, tomatoes, yams, among others.
Having agreed to have two children only, it was surprising that the couple did not adopt any family planning method.
Despite persistent pressure from Oyekanmi, urging Aisha to visit the hospital for enquiries on available family planning methods that could be adopted, all such counsel fell on deaf ears, as Aisha insisted that she was scared of using any of the available family planning methods based on information being peddled by current users to the effect that the commodities impacted negatively on the weight of users.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children, the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods.
Fortunately, six months into the marriage, Aisha conceived and had a stress-free pregnancy. The delivery of the baby boy at a private health facility afterwards, was equally safe.
Trouble however started when Aisha weaned the baby on the seventh month after delivery, she found that she had conceived again. News of the conception not only shocked her husband, it threw him off balance as he was not ready for another baby just yet.
Based on the resulting altercations between the couple arising from the unintended conception, the couple ended up aborting the pregnancy.
Consequently, to prevent further problems from her husband and to ensure peace in her home, Aisha decided to take the bull by the horns by promptly visiting a Family Planning Centre at a flagship primary healthcare centre (PHC) in Ifako- Ijaiye, Lagos State.
On arriving the facility at about 11.30am on the fateful day, she was registered and referred to the Family Planning centre, the two nurses on duty were dressed and ready to depart the centre for a social engagement elsewhere: the retirement party of one of their former boss who retired from service two months ago.
Having listened to what brought Aisha to the facility, the nurses appealed to her to return to get the family planning service the following week. This development angered Aisha who begged the service providers to consider the distant journey she had been through, travelling all the way from Ojodu Berger before getting to the centre to access the family planning service.
The pleas however fell on deaf ears, as the nurses insisted that providing Aisha with the needed service would mean getting to the party late. Thereafter, both providers abandoned Aisha, departing the facility to her dismay.
Sadly, not even Aisha’s complaints to other superior officials in the facility prompted a change of heart; they only appealed to Aisha to return for the service next week. For Aisha, what happened at the facility was unbelievable. Providers employed by the Lagos State Government from their poor attitude have denied her the opportunity to access the needed care.
Although, Aisha left the centre without accessing the service, the question that comes to mind is: how many more clients had encountered similar experience in the hands of care providers?
How many other clients had missed the opportunity to access family planning services, occasioned by such negative attitude of these providers? It is noteworthy to mention also that this provider’s poor attitude may be widespread, happening in other centres.
While it is true that some clients who faced similar experience to that of Aisha would return to the centre on a future date to access the service, others may never turn up again, resulting in that category of clients missing the opportunity to access needed services.
For those who miss such an opportunity, the possibility of ending up with unintended pregnancy and abortion is high, according to medical experts.
Data issued by the Guttmacher Institute shows an estimated 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in Nigeria in 2012, equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1,000 women among women aged 15 to 49 years.
Also, the estimated unintended pregnancy rate was 59 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49. Fifty-six per cent of unintended pregnancies were resolved by abortion, the Guttmacher Institute report showed.
The Guttmacher Institute is a research organisation started in 1968 that works to study, educate, and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The organisation works mainly in the United States (US) but also focuses on developing countries Research has been shown that if adopted and used appropriately, family planning can prevent at 34 per cent maternal death; every proactive government will embrace the scaling up of family planning services as one of the maternal survival strategies.
According to the Lagos the State Reproductive Health Coordinator, Dr. Saidat Okaga, ‘’Every day about 111 women and girls in Nigeria die due to preventable pregnancy and child birth related complications.
What this means is that every hour five women die. Nigeria accounts for one in nine maternal deaths worldwide.
‘’Thirty per cent of such deaths can be prevented by increasing access to and uptake of family planning services.
Furthermore, she stated that family planning reduces maternal mortality by delaying first pregnancies, enabling birth spacing and thus reducing the hazards of frailty associated with close births.
In addition, family planning can prevent unintended pregnancies and chances of complications and by reducing abortions as well.
To ensure that health care providers are adequately empowered so as to encourage more women adopt family planning services, the chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria (AAFP), Dr. Ejike Oji called for the training and retraining of family planning providers, saying their provision of effective service would pave the way for increased family planning uptake.