In furtherance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to providing adequate health care, ensuring appropriate and relevant education and a conducive environment that create jobs for the teeming Nigerian populace, the Federal Government has added $1million to the $3million already committed to the purchase of Family Planning(FP) commodities, bringing it to a total sum of $4 million yearly.
The reason for this critical investment is hinged on the alarming increase of additional 58 million people to the country’s population in the last 12years, without commensurate increase in the Nation’s resources.
The Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, made this known recently at the Opening ceremony of the 5th Nigeria Family Planning Conference, in Abuja. Theme:Investment. Innovation. Inclusiveness.
Connecting his keynote address, titled, ‘The Pivotal Role of Family Planning in Accelerating Nigeria’s Achievement of Demographic Dividend (DD)’ to the theme of the conference, the Vice President said Investment, Innovation and Inclusiveness were three very critical keys for unlocking the beneficial contributions of FP to Nigeria’s ambition of reaping its potential Demographic Dividend.
Professor Osinbajo who was represented by the Honorable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, explained that Demographic Dividend was the catch-term for the benefits of attaining the optimal age structure.
According to Osinbajo ‘In the case of Nigeria, this optimal age structure would mean a combination of declining fertility and a simultaneous rise in the working age population. Our main challenge, evidently, is with our current fertility rates’
He therefore maintained that investing in Family Planning had been proven to be smart, cost-effective, life-saving and especially critical in a country like Nigeria with a very young and growing population.
Osinbajo informed that an estimated 63 percent of the total population was below 25 years of age; with a significant segment of that population being sexually active and needing education and guidance to wisely navigate the issues of sexuality and choice of contraception.
The Vice-President also noted that there must be innovation in approach to Family Planning in the 21st century. ‘This innovation must apply to the ways in which we make and implement our Family Planning policies. To make our efforts count we must put greater emphasis on evidence-based approaches to the decisions we make as governments, financial institutions, civil society organizations as well as the ways we mobilize funding and other resources and communicate with the target audiences’
He further stated that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sustainable Development by 2030 depended significantly on how well sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people were prioritized. The Vice President said ‘we must insist on including young people at the very heart of our policies and deployment of resources to achieve these policies’
He commended the Federal Ministry of Health, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), USIAD, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation amongst other partners for their continuous support and investment in FP.
Earlier in his Opening speech, Professor Adewole said the commitment of President Buhari’s administration to the health and wellbeing of Nigerians could be seen through initiatives like Basic Health Care Provision Fund, the Primary Health Care Revitalization project, Health response to the North East, etc.
He therefore informed that the conference which was organized to take stock of how far Nigeria had gone in ensuring that Nigerians had access to right based FP services would guarantee greater collaboration and coordination among stakeholders.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Conference Local Organizing Committee(CLO) /Chairman Strategic Management Committee, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning(AAFP) and focal point FP 2020, Dr. Ejike Oji, said the purpose of the conference was to seek ways and means of advancing efforts in providing the needed services to the citizenry and seek to reduce maternal deaths and disabilities.
According to him, FP services was a right ‘and the only way we can make sure women, girls and men too exercise this right is to empower them to make those critical decisions based on their choices in an atmosphere free of coercion.
The three-day Conference was hosted by AAFP in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health.