By Elijah Ugani: Health Correspondent
The Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Mr. Eze Duruiheoma has said that the best step towards population management is family planning and birth spacing.
Mr. Duruiheoma stated this at a press briefing held at the Calabar sub office of the United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) in Calabar as part of activities to mark the 2018 edition of the World Population Day celebrated annually on July 11.
Represented by the Director in charge of Cross River State in the NPC, Mr. Billy Eteng, Duruiheoma averred that: “Family planning and birth spacing is the first and the right step to population management, central to saving the lives of women and adolescent girls, enhances women’s empowerment, key to poverty reduction, pathway to achieving demographic dividend, fundamental for realizing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and strategic for national progress.”
The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Family Planning is a Human Right.”
According to the UN, it was chosen to mark the 50th anniversary of the first proclamation on family planning as a human right, which was made, May 13, 1968 at the conclusion of the United Nations international conference on human rights.
Article 16 of the proclamation states that: “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children.”
And, Duruiheoma posited that: “Twenty six years after the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, the declaration was reaffirmed, but with a rider and to have the information and means to do so and to ensure informed choices and make available a full range of safe and effective methods. The ICPD Program of Action (PoA) allows the right to be exercised by all couples and individuals.”
He continued: “As a signatory to both declarations, this day provides an opportunity for us as a nation to reflect on efforts made over the five decades to empower the relevant population groups to exercise this right.
“Nigeria’s population has increased significantly, from 56 million in 1952 to 88.9 million in 1991, reached 140 million in 2006 and with an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent (derived from 2006 population and housing census), currently is estimated at over 198 million. In addition, the United Nations predicts, based on medium variant, that, the population will reach 264 million by 2030, and by 2050 will become the third most populous nation in the world at 340 million. If the current growth rate persist will in 2100 reach 794 million.”
Furthermore, he stated that the “achievement of family planning as a human right rests on information, education and means to exercise the right to reproductive freedom, to responsibly determine when to start reproduction, the number of spacing.”
The Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr. Natalia Kanem who was represented by the programs officer and head of the Calabar office, Mr. Kenneth Ehouzou revealed that: “Family planning is not only a matter of human rights, it is also central to women’s empowerment, reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. Yet, in developing regions, some 214 million women still lack safe and effective family planning methods for reasons, ranging from lack of information or services, to lack of support from their partners or communities.
“UNFPA is fully committed to support countries’ efforts to uphold the rights of individuals, especially women, to plan a family. We are striving to end all unmet need for voluntary family planning in developing countries by 2030. But we cannot do this alone. Governments, parliamentarians, the private sector and civil society must join forces to make it happen.
“To begin with, developed countries could close the global family planning funding gap for a mere 20 percent person per year, given the expected returns for families, societies and nations, it would be a strategic and double investment in the world’s future.”
Kanen concluded by calling on the government to fulfill their commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
“On this day of World Population Day, UNFPA calls on the government to fulfill their commitments to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights, including family planning services and information, as agreed at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development and in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Investments in family planning today are investments in the health and well-being of millions of women for generations to come,” she said.
On government’s inability to conduct census since 2016 as supposed and since the last census was carried out in 2006, Ehuozuo noted that: “the ideal situation is that census is conducted every ten years, which requires resources, planning and political permutations which must be taken into consideration. We provided technical support for the government to conduct census in 2006, we will continue to do that, when you take into consideration the economic and security challenges, we will continue to recommend to the government to conduct census but execution rest solely on the government.”
On modalities to get the message and advocacy to the general public and the rural areas on the right to family planning, he said that, “we have today appeared on good morning Cross River, a daily program by the Cross River Broadcasting Cooperation and talked with the people, that is why we also have invited you here, we will be at the radio station later today, all geared towards sensitizing the public on the right to family planning and its importance. We had in partnership with the Ministry of Health trained health staff across the state on family planning as well as intend to train willing volunteers who would complement the efforts of the health personnel.”
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