Federal Government (FG) has said it will not relent its commitment to invest in and also improve on access to family planning services among Nigerian women and young adults.
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo in a keynote address to the 5th Nigerian Family Planning Conference in Abuja noted, “Investing in family planning has been proven to be smart, cost effective, and life saving; and is especially critical…keeping in mind that an estimated 63% of the total population is below 25 years of age; with a significant segment of the population being sexually active and needing education and guidance to wisely navigate the issues of sexuality and choice and contraception”
Osinbajo pointed out that at the 2012 London Global Summit on Family Planning, federal government committed itself to expand access to and use of family planning services and achieve a contraceptive prevalence rate of 36 percent by 2018,
He however explained that the 2017 rebasement of Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) to 27% by 2020 was as a reflection of current realities.
He pointed out that though, FG realised that there was indeed need to be more ambitious “But not just in setting goals but also in achieving them”.
The Vice President who was represented by Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole in his address titled: ‘ The Pivotal Role of Family Planning in Accelerating Nigeria’s Prospect in Achieving Demographic Dividend’, hinged the commitment of government to the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) and subsequent development plans and strategies which he said are based on ability to focus and prioritize in the face of competing demands.
Osinbajo who expressed disappointment at previous administration inability to provide safety nets for the poor and vulnerable in the period of 2011 and 2015 of increases in oil revenue also said, ” in the absence of basic social safety nets, and pro-poor policy making, tens of millions of our people were left stranded, observing statistics of economic growth from a distance, completely untouched by it”.
He said, it was the reality that Nigeria has continued to lag behind in achieving development set goals particularly the MDGs that it became clear “as an administration that we had to among other necessary things put Nigeria poorest and vulnerable persons at the centre of our policy making”
He observed that the country can only achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, if is is able to significantly prioritize sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people.
According to him, “Clearly, we must insist on including young people at the very heart of our policies and our deployment of resources to achieve these policies”, said Prof Osinbajo
He described the the theme of the Conference: “Investment, Innovation, Inclusiveness” as three very critical keys for unlocking the very beneficial contributions of Family Planning to nigeria’s ambitions of reaping all of its potential Demographic Dividend.
The Vice President also described Demographic Dividend as the catch all term needed to achieve the benefits and potentials from the optimal age structure in a population.
“In the case of Nigeria, this optimal age struture would mean a combination of declining fertility and a simultaneous rise in the working age population”, said Osinbajo
He however lamented that the current fertility rates among Nigerians remains a challenge.
He called for many more innovative ways from demographic experts and other stakeholders on various means to tackle the complex and complicated nature of the evolving population patterns using evidence -based approaches to population management.
According to the Vice President, “Time is not exactly on our side. We must act and move fast, because our challenges themselves are not simply sitting and waiting around to be solved”.
He added, ” Family Planning and population management generally are not just life-saving interventions but actually critical tools for economic and social development”.