Fertility rates is steadily increasing among women in Ondo State in spite of progress at reducing total fertility rate among South-West women.
The fact is contained in the recently released 2016-2017 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) a UNICEF data investment collection Project.
MICS is a 5-yearly country survey and report of situation of women and children in countries where UNICEF has investment and programmes.
The latest data shows that fertility rates among women in Ondo State is on the increase contrary to the overall reduction in fertility rates among women in southwest zone of the country.
Though the result of the cluster survey shows that more women are embracing the use of modern family planning methods in absolute figures, but the effect is still low on fertility rates.
Presenting the MICS report on the situation of children and women in South West States at a recent Data Driven Journalism workshop by UNICEF in Ibadan, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Niyi Olaleye compared the 2011 data with 2016-2017 data showing the downward trend in number of children per woman in southwest.
The chart shows that total fertility rate for women age 15-49 years in 2011 in the southwest was an average of 5.1 children while in 2016-2017 it dropped to an average of 4.2 children per every woman of reproductive age.
Two States of Oyo and Edo in 2011 had average of 6.5 and 5.6 number of fertility rate per woman but by 2016-2017, the rates dropped to 4.9 and 3.8 respectively, not having much effect.
However, fertility rates among women in Oyo and Osun states remain steady at 4.9 children per woman.
Some of the reasons fuelling the high fertility rates among women in Ondo, Osun and Edo is linked early childbirth before the age of eighteen and low acceptance of family planning among households.
The MICS report indicates that one in every five girls in Ondo State for example had given birth before reaching 18years while use of any form of modern contraceptive method is generally low.
For example, in 2011 in Ondo State, the indication was that early child bearing is most prevalent with 22.8 out of every 100 giving birth before age of 18 while the figure was 19.2 out of 100 in 2017; a slight reduction but significantly high when compared with other southwest states.
In Edo State, as at 2011, at least 5.7 women out of 100 had given birth before age 18 but in the 2017 MICS survey, the number rose to 8.4 out of 100 women between 20-24 years had given birth by age of 18years.
Lagos State, remains the only southwest state with low indication for fertility rate at 4.6 per every woman in 2016-2017 down, from 6.4 in 2011 but then, the state has a 25 percent of unmet need for family planning among its married population of 15-49years.
From the MICS report, there is a generally low usage of contraceptive methods among southwest women at mere 25 percent in 2017 from 35percent in 2007 and it is even reducing further.
Olaleye calls for concerted effort to promote the embrace of family planning and adoption of modern contraception to improve on the health status of women and children and raise the economic indices of the region.
It is generally believed that embracing a sustained modern method of contraception and family planning will promote the goals of all the SDGs and in particular, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.