Expert urges govt to implement policies on youth access to contraception

By Hassan Zaggi

Governments at all levels have been called upon to implement policies that will enable young people have access to contraception.

The Head, Marketing and Communications, Marie Stopes Nigeria, Ogechi Onuoha, made the call at a virtual media briefing organized in partnership between Maries Stopes and Love Matters Nigeria, in Abuja, yesterday.

“If you follow the trend in sexual health in recent times, you see government promises that are constantly enhancing youth access to contraception.

“However, beyond the policy level, we need to now take it to the implementation level where the individual who provides these services can translate these policies into actual action.

“Again, strengthening our providers to be friendly in their approach. Taking away the bias around sexual health, around family planning and use of contraception,” she noted.

She, however, lamented that the big challenge about SRH among both adults and the young people in Nigeria was that sex and sexuality is largely seen as a social taboo in many cultures.

“We don’t talk about sex freely. We discuss sex in hush tones.

“Because of this stigma and embarrassment around discussing sex, young persons and even adults alike are not very open about sexuality and sexual health.

“An adult cannot easily go into a pharmacy to buy a condom. They cant openly discuss it.

“It is that safe space to discuss freely without being judged, that is where we need to get to as a people and as a nation,” she noted.

Speaking on how COVID-19 impacted on the SHR services, Ogechi said: Covid-19- has impacted on sexual reproductive health services just like it did for other services.

“Initially from our experience at Marie Stopes, during the lockdown, there were initial fears for people to come out and take services.

“They were afraid of being infected by Covid. The lockdown also restricted movement, people could not leave their homes to places where they could access services.

“Another challenge that Covid brought has to do with issues around logistics management. Commodities at that initial time could not be moved from one location to another because of the lockdown.

“However, some of these things were actually responded to. The Federal Ministry of Health working with partners actually did a lot.”

On her part, the Country Director of Love Matters Naija, Alu Azege, called on Nigeria youth to be free and open to initiate conversation about contraception in order to be safe.

“I am glad that we are educating our youth and encouraging a discussion about contraception among the young people and this is evident in all our conversation.

“With so many birth control options available, choosing the most suitable form can be very discouraging for many young Nigerians.

“We encourage the youth to get the contraception and ask their healthcare providers which contraception is best for them,” she stressed

Love Matters Naija, according to her, is a Non Governmental Organsation (NGO) that focuses on issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and their rights.

“We want young people to know how far and how much right we have when it comes to these issues.

“For us at Love Matter Naija, we address the issue of SRH from the place of positive perspective. We do not want anything short of it.”

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