From 11 to 13th September 2017, policymakers, CSOs, and advocates from around Nigeria gathered at the 5th Annual Family Planning Consultative Stakeholders Meeting themed “Investing in Family Planning: Key to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria”.

Education as a Vaccine joined other stakeholders to discuss the process that will fast rack efforts to actualizing a modern contraceptive rate of 27% among women – a commitment Nigeria made during the Family Planning Summit in London to ensure that females, both young and old in Nigeria are able to plan their families and futures.

The meeting, which had in attendance traditional and religious rulers, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders was organised by Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was also an opportunity for high level discussions aimed at proffering sustainable solutions to the issue of unplanned pregnancies in Nigeria.

EVA’s Programme Coordinator, Onuh Davidson was on a panel to discuss “Innovative approaches for reaching adolescents and hard to reach populations including IDPs”. He shared EVA’s programmes and experiences using innovative technologies to deliver sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and young people.1

“Education as a Vaccine has over the years utilized innovative approaches to reach adolescents and young people with information and access to sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptives and family planning commodities”, Davidson accounted.

Pointing out the key results from our innovative interventions, he said that more than a million questions have been received via sms, over 40,000 voice calls received via the hotline, with over 600 downloads from play store for the EVA’s three mobile SRH applications, FRISKY, DIVA, and LINK UP. “We have also found out that young people prefer using technology tools & services due to the confidentiality, privacy & anonymity it presents especially when discussing issues of SRH & contraceptives” he added.

2According to him, to increase access to family planning for young people, 20 Females who are currently out-of-school due to pregnancy or childbirth in 3 communities in Kwali Area Council, have been trained  as community based distributors to provide non prescriptive family planning commodities to peers in their community. They were also trained on other Sexual and Reproductive Health issues and economically strengthened through income generating activities.

As the use of new technologies is on the increase, he recommended that facilities should be encouraged to engage in the use of tools like the Link up mobile application to relate with patients and young people in their communities. “Synergy should be encouraged between service providers and organisations for seamless flow of referrals of clients”.

In his remarks, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi said that the death of women during childbirth should be considered a national disaster in Nigeria even as the country records 110 maternal deaths every day. The Royal father called for concerted efforts to prevent such a colossal loss as “No woman should die giving life”.

“This family planning is a matter all stakeholders should seriously invest in. Population growth is an asset if well planned and a 7liability if it is not. I call on the Federal Government and State Governors to pay more attention to this daily national disaster” to curtail the death of young and girls the Ooni said.

In the same vein, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammed Abubakar III made it clear that Islam was not against family planning and technology.

The Sultan who was represented by the Emir of Shongai, Dr Haliru Yahaya, admonished the Government to change the strategy around family planning if our mushrooming population will be contained just like polio in the northern Nigeria.

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole with other state actors launched the strategic four-year plan to change the mode of communicating family planning in the country and the ‘Green Dot’- the new logo for family planning services across Nigeria.

Professor Adewole expressed the need to adopt family planning in an aggressive manner in order to eliminate maternal mortality. According to him, for Nigeria to reap demographic dividends “we need to do three things: put resources, invest in growing people with extension to women and children, and invest in family planning”.

The President Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Olasupo Ayokunle set the record straight that Christianity is not against family planning with the Bible frowning at a man who could not provide for his family. “A well-planned family would lead to a well-planned nation” he said.5

Describing the statistics as alarming and unacceptable, the UNFPA Representative in Nigeria, Diene Keita disclosed that Nigeria has the highest number of women and children dying in the continent, and the 2nd highest in the world. In her words, about one-third of preventable maternal deaths can be prevented by delayed motherhood among young girls and by use of family planning commodities.

Keita was emphatic in her demand for improved investment in family planning as it will increase population management and result in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the Nigeria.

“Moving forward, Education as a Vaccine will continue to leverage different innovative means to implement our programmes and deliver services to adolescents and young people to  enable them plan their lives and live a fulfilled life”, Davisdon said.