A civil rights organisation, Marie Stopes International Organisation of Nigeria, has advised Nigerian women to space their children in such a way that they would be strong and healthy enough to contribute to the wellbeing of their families.
MSION said its mission was to provide sexual reproductive health services in the country and “ensure that families and women have children by choice, not by chance.”
The organisation said that despite their readiness to engage in family planning and child spacing, about 22 per cent of women of reproductive age in Nigeria lack access to contraceptives.
The Country Director of MSION, Effiom Nyong Effiom, expressed these views during a ceremony held in Abuja to mark its 10th anniversary in the country.
Effiom added that the organisation had, in the past one decade, delivered over 29 million family planning services to 7.2 million persons in Nigeria as a result of its health system strengthening efforts in the public and private health sectors.
He said, “MSION has grown in leaps and bounds in the last decade with more than 29 million family planning services delivered to 7, 239, 147 persons in Nigeria, as a result of Marie Stopes’ health strengthening efforts in the public and private health sectors, as well as direct service delivery through the Marie Stopes ladies, mobile outreach and centres.
“We found out that about 22 per cent of women of reproductive age, as the last Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey shows, desire the contraceptive method. But they are not getting it. So, it is a significant number when you look at that and it means we are failing these women.”
Effiom advised women to space their children for the sake of their health and that of the country, saying that family planning must be seen as a life-saving measure and not a religious or cultural crime offence.
He said; “Women must space their children so that they can recover, be strong and healthy to contribute to their families. Inadequate spacing endangers the woman and the family as a whole because women are the bedrock of the family. A healthy mother will take care of her family better than anybody else.
“We dream of a world where every birth is wanted. We want people to have children because they want to and not because it just happened. We are providing the methods that will help them to do this because we want families to be healthy.
“We do not know of any religion that frowns at family planning. There is family planning even in Afghanistan. Ireland, with its largely Catholic faith, has made some changes. England has also made changes. I do not think it is about religion. It is more of education and information.”