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Friday, May 20, 2022

Religion leaders can change the story of contraception in Nigeria and save 1000’s

By Tijani Salami

Earlier this month, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Well being, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, mentioned that extra widespread use of household planning can cut back maternal deaths by 30 p.c, saving the lives of about 18,000 girls yearly.

The Minister known as for elevated funding in household planning providers and reiterated Nigeria’s dedication to extend fashionable contraceptive use to 27 p.c by 2024. Minister Mamora additional harassed that males must be concerned in household planning discussions, which I mentioned in my current article concerning the risks brought on by social taboos round contraception.

I warmly welcome the Minister’s management on this situation and pray that his requires funding shall be heeded, nevertheless, it is going to want greater than cash. Low use of recent contraceptives in Nigeria isn’t solely on account of lack of funding, but in addition secrecy, embarrassment and misconceptions. Right here, I consider that spiritual leaders have the potential to face within the hole. As extremely influential leaders throughout society, religion leaders may also help change the story of household planning and contraception, simply as they did round childhood vaccinations.

As a physician and a spiritual man, I repeatedly conduct household planning outreach actions, together with amongst spiritual teams. I do know that when religion leaders converse to their congregations on household planning, it has an affect. At Tawiyi Baptist Church in Bosso, Niger State, I used to be invited by the resident pastor to speak to households about contraception and well being. These measures have resulted in a big share now understanding and utilizing fashionable contraception, serving to households to regulate unplanned pregnancies and saving them plenty of stress and fear. The Chapel of Grace in Minna is an interdenominational church which has a specialised unit that counsels {couples} desiring to marry on reproductive well being, together with household planning. Ladies in the neighborhood endure fewer reproductive well being issues because of this, and extra {couples} are in a position to dwell comfortably and plan their households.

It’s not solely Christian church leaders who can play a task. Muslim clerics have been very important advocates for polio vaccination and have mobilized their communities in previous a long time to take part in immunisation schemes. The clerics’ assist for this system helped to dispel doubts and misconceptions concerning the polio vaccine, ultimately resulting in great success, even after well being authorities had struggled to interrupt by. They will additionally play their half in encouraging use of household planning and needs to be included in discussions about the best way to enhance uptake throughout the nation.

Proof helps the engagement of non secular leaders in bettering understanding of reproductive well being and use of household planning. Analysis by the Johns Hopkins Heart for Communications Packages discovered that Nigerian girls whose clerics assist household planning have been considerably extra more likely to undertake fashionable contraceptive strategies. An additional report by Household Planning 2020 throughout Sub-Saharan Africa says that Religion-Primarily based Organizations may also help to “contextualize household planning ideas and interventions by utilizing language and approaches that resonate with the cultures and beliefs of the communities they serve”.

Religion Primarily based Organizations have some 30 p.c of the well being care market in Nigeria and are subsequently essential actors on this house. Wholesome spacing of pregnancies provides the chance to save lots of the lives of thousands and thousands of girls in Nigeria, guaranteeing that each one infants are needed and have the very best begin in life.

If Nigeria is to make critical progress on its horrible maternal well being report, the well being occupation, authorities and personal sector should actively have interaction spiritual leaders to enhance Nigeria’s use of contraception. The federal government is but to take the initiative on this situation, even amongst these religion leaders who’re already making efforts to enlighten their members and who would profit from extra assist. This might take the type of coaching and visits by well being employees and even offering contraceptive merchandise.

I sincerely consider that almost all spiritual persons are not towards household planning and in my expertise, spiritual leaders don’t must be a block to household planning. A lot of them already see the advantages of contraception and I consider a big variety of could be able to unfold the message if they’re known as upon by the federal government to take action, enjoying their half as essential stakeholders. I urge the Minister of State for Well being to talk to non secular leaders throughout the nation as a part of a nationwide marketing campaign to extend contraceptive use. I consider he shall be pleasantly shocked by the response he receives. If all of us work collectively, we are able to cut back Nigeria’s tragically excessive fee of maternal loss of life, cut back the burden on public well being and create a extra sustainable, wholesome, and affluent future for all Nigerian youngsters.

Dr Tijani Salami is a doctor, sexual and reproductive well being professional and founding father of Sisters Caregivers Mission Initiative, which supplies medical and social assist for girls and advocates for an finish to little one marriage and maternal malnutrition. Twitter: @DrSalamiTijani1

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