Dr Bernard Emonena, Consultant, Family Planning (FP) Service Delivery, has advised both Federal and State Governments to integrate family planning into its sensitization programmes on impacts of Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.
Emonena gave the advice at a Media Roundtable with Development Communications (DevComs) Network in Asaba on Sunday
The theme of the meeting was “COVID -19: Maintaining Demand for Family Planning Services; Experience from the Field”
He said integrating FP into their COVID-19 sensitization programmes would also help increase awareness and consequently cause people to have access to FP services in the country to avoid unexpected or unplanned pregnancies.
He noted that before the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, Nigeria’s unmet need for family planning among reproductive women was 67 per cent.
He said that the lockdown had further denied many more women access to family planning services.
The FP consultant noted that the consequences of the lockdown could rather be better imagined as many women could come down with unplanned pregnancies during the period.
Emonena said that there was no doubt that the pandemic had caused untold hardship on the world’s economy including Nigeria, adding that it would not be proper for people to increase the number of children without adequate plans to care for them.
He said that ways to integrate FP into the programme would be through advocacy to government, traditional rulers and religious leaders as channel of demand generation.
He said that FP messages should be carried along with COVID-19 awareness messages and service delivery.
He said government should support counseling and provision of FP services to persons who came for health issues such post abortion care, post partum, women bringing children for immunization, adolescents and youths seeking treatment for infectious disease.
According to Emonena, Nigeria has an unmet need for FP among sexually active unmarried women at 48 per cent and sexually active married at 19 per cent
“Combining this with the need for FP that the current pandemic has added, makes it all the heavy.
“To lighten this load and save our women, children, men and our society, there is need to increase and maintain demand for FP services amidst the lockdown.
“To combat the rising cases of COVID -19, the Federal and State governments have instituted various measures to ensure reduction in the spread and possibly flatten the curve.
“Among these measures is the total or partial lockdown requiring that people including couples and partners stay at home idle.
“This idleness is often covered for by increased sexual activities which could lead to unplanned pregnancies.
“Restriction in movement prevented some who would want to seek FP services and If this is left unchecked it could further increase the Nigeria problem of tackling its population explosion.
“To ensure that demand for FP services continue to flow, there is need for integration of FP services into the ongoing COVID-19 awareness campaign, in the area,” he said.