World Contraception Day 2021: DevComs reiterates commitment to media collaboration, tasks practitioners on sexual reproductive health

From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos

Nigeria’s Development Communication Network (DevComs) said it is proud to be involved with an organization focused on raising awareness about the issues of overpopulation in Nigeria.

In a press statement DevComs stated that currently, with a presence in over 13 states and more than 300 networks of journalists, their work has been able to reach millions of Nigerians with information that can literally help to reduce women and girls’ SRH associated vulnerabilities. 

26th of every September is the World Contraception Day {WCD} this year theme ‘Be safe Not Sorry’ which envisions that every pregnancy in the world should be planned. “World Contraception Day” is centered on improving awareness of contraception in order to enable young people most especially women and girls make informed decisions with their sexual and reproductive health. The need to empower young people in Nigeria to take charge of their reproductive and sexual health is important as in almost all societies in the world, there is an increase in sexual activities among young persons. This might lead to unplanned pregnancies which oftentimes lead to abortions which sometimes end in a tragedy such as death or loss of ability to give birth. This year’s event is also an opportunity to address the challenges of women and girls in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to World Bank data (2020), women and girls make up about 49% of the total population in Nigeria. This implies that for gender equality to be achieved, the needs of half the population of the country need to be prioritized. 

DevCom’s Executive Director, Akin Jimoh says; “Communities with access to sexual and reproductive health services and information historically have been known to delay childbearing in times of fiscal uncertainty such as the COVID pandemic presented”. However, several literatures present an increase in unplanned pregnancies during the outbreak of the pandemic due to a gap in knowledge by many, as well as heightened barriers occasioned by the COVID restrictions. Pro-activeness of government and partners in providing women with options to access quality and convenient Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services even in uncertain times as this can address this gap.

According to Roselyn Odeh, Deputy Team Lead, Delivering Innovation for Self Care with Society for Family Health; “Many Nigerian women and girls still face extreme poverty and many still do not have access to information and therefore not aware of their SRH rights and how to maintain their sexual and reproductive health. Knowledge of SRH self-care approaches can improve SRH outcomes. When women are knowledgeable about options to prevent unplanned pregnancies, their practice of rights and choices is enhanced. With regards to reproductive health and family planning, the drive towards creating awareness and demand on certain self-care options like the (DMPA-SC) self-injectable method of family planning provides an opportunity to address some of the issues women face pertaining to SRH rights. This is because the option presents women with a family planning method that they can learn to use themselves and at their convenience. It is easily accessible, can be self-administered and as a method, DMPA-SC provides three months of protection from unplanned pregnancy”.

Women and girls deserve access to quality and accurate information on safe, effective, affordable, and acceptable contraception of choice. It is no doubt that a major approach to addressing SRH vulnerabilities of women and girls is to make available modern SRH supplies including contraceptives/family planning, menstrual health, and hygiene commodities. These items are central to adolescent girls’ and women’s health, empowerment, and the exercise of their sexual and reproductive health rights.

Notably, there is a need for sustainable media engagement of all stakeholders to address the vulnerabilities revolving around SRH challenges faced by women and girls in order for them to live healthy lives. This will enable women to practice optimal self-care as regards their SRH especially in the time where the COVID pandemic has put so much pressure on health care systems and impacted the provision of other essential health care services.

Akinlolu Akinpelumi Head of Operation at Development Communication Network reiterated that DevComs Network will continue to work with the media and urge practitioners to continue to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health including issues of child spacing and its benefits to women, and the overall wellbeing of families. Importantly, society will be able to manage its standard of living.

Development Communications Network is a media support organization with resources to help journalists in reporting science, public health, and social sector issues.

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