Awareness, Access and Utilization of Family Planning Information in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

Author:Chukwuji, Charles Nwabueze


The place of information in all aspects of human existence is a necessity. Family planning information is an important factor in having a meaningful life both for the individual family and the nation as a whole as it is rightly said that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Owusu-Ansah, in (Anunobi, &Udem, 2014) defined information as factual data, ideas, and other knowledge emanating from any society that are identified as being of value, sometimes gathered on a regular basis, organized in some fashion, transmitted to others, and used in some meaningful way. Information they say is power. It has the potential of transforming life. However, it is only with the right information that you can make an informed decision. The person that have the right information and used it well will always be ahead of the person that does not have the right information. Family planning information is right information every citizen that is of age should have. Birth control is at the center of family planning. Birth control was original name used for family planning. According to Encyclopedia Britannica (2011) it was first used by a U.S. reformer Margaret Sanger in 1914/15and the term denotes methods of preventing conception, whether involving the male or female, it now comprises all methods of fertility control including abortion and sterilization. While fertility control is a broader term encompassing stimulating or inducing fertility as well as the limitation of births. Family planning or Planned Parenthood generally refers more broadly to policies, programs and services designed to assist people in practicing birth control. Obinna (2017) reported in Vanguard online that Dr. Jumoke Adekogbaa Reproductive Health and Family Planning Advisor with Engender Health says that Family Planning is the initiation and use of natural or modern contraceptive methods to delay, space or limit future pregnancies and that it gives couples the ability to choose the number and space births of their children. Healthy spacing of pregnancies increases healthy outcomes for mother and baby she added.

The knowledge of family planning does more than enable women and men to control their family size as is popularly held. It guarantees citizens' health and rights; improves families quality of life and by implication the larger society. The saying that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation will remain a truism for a very long time to come. According to the Federal Government of Nigeria (2014) family planning (FP) is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent maternal, infant, and child mortality. In its blue print document it argued that it can reduce maternal mortality by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, the number of abortions, and the proportion of births at high risk. It has been estimated that meeting women's need for modern contraceptives would prevent about one-quarter to one-third of all maternal deaths, saving 140,000 to 150,000 lives per year. Family planning, FGN (2014) continues offers a host of additional health, social, and economic benefits; it can help slow the spread of HIV, promote gender equality, reduce poverty, accelerate socioeconomic development, and protect the environment. Control of human fertility has been the desire of most individuals and societies over the years. That is to say that the whole essence of fertility control or family planning is to put the population under control and enhances living condition. In those days families need for power and prosperity necessitated large population which makes them to engage in polygamy, but the desirability of large family population these days is in doubt especially in developing countries like Nigeria and in the face of the persistent economic crisis across the globe. Large population are supposed to be advantage of countries as it were to families in those good old days but the reverse is the case for economic reasons as earlier stated. As United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (2017) puts it, access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right and that family planning is central to gender equality and women's empowerment, also a key factor in reducing poverty. Yet in developing regions, some 214 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective family planning methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services, religious belief to lack of support from their partners or communities. This threatens their ability to build a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. UNFPA further states that Women's and adolescents' right to contraceptive information and services is grounded in basic human rights. And that the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) recognized "the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice."

Obinna (2017) noted that much is yet to be desired as far as maternal health is concerned. The Maternal Mortality ratio remains one of the highest in the world at 576 per 100,000 live births. And on the average, 116 women die every day in Nigeria from complications of pregnancy, labour or childbirth. In line with this, the Federal Government of Nigeria (2014) after the 2012 London Summit on family Planning developed a Blue Print--The Nigeria Family Planning Blueprint (Scale-Up Plan October, 2014).Government stated that proper implementation of the Blueprint would definitely result in the achievement of the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 36 percent by 2018 as against the present CPR of 15 percent, aversion of infant death by 400,000 and 700,000 child deaths and 1.6 million unintended pregnancies will also be averted. This is an achievable task but requires the concerted effort of not only the three tiers of government but that of the communities, civil society organizations, and the organised private sector as they rightly said. Our population is growing at an alarming rate of 3.3 % per annum FGN (2014). Is this a suggestion that family planning information is not available or adequately available to the citizens? Or that the people are not aware of the idea, its benefits and possible side effects? Or is it that the information is not being put to use or adequate use by the citizens. Could it also be that the means of conveying the information is not a popular one? 2018 achievement target for attainment of the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of 36 is just few months away can we be said to be faring well in that regard? Sustained campaigns and crusades to convey the message/information to the populace and see the same accepted and put to use is a must as ignorant in itself has been said to be a disease. The family planning information should not be limited to women antenatal clinics alone because this will definitely exclude men from the campaign, and naturally would yield little or no result. The awareness drive should be for both couples as they are the ones to jointly take the decision of accepting the need for family planning and what method(s) to adopt from available options. Several methods exist over the years both traditional and modern. Traditional method includes mostly unorthodox means, while modern methods of contraception include pill, injection, implants, female sterilization, male sterilization, female condom, male condom, intrauterine device, diaphragm, foam/jelly, and emergency contraception.. creating awareness, having access and utilization of the information and methods would help in mitigating complications in pregnancy, maternal/mortality death under spaced child births, poverty, illiteracy and population explosion in Zamfara State. It is the intent of this study therefore, to find out the extent of awareness, accessibility, source(s), methods and of course utilization of family planning information to Nigerians in Zamfara Satate.

Statement of problem

Proper family planning has a great impact on the improvement and welfare of any people. Nigerian journey of national development cannot be said to be a successful one. There are high records of out of school children, high maternal mortality rate, and our population is growing at an alarming rate of 3.3 % percent per annum according to Prof. Hadiza Shehu Galadanci as reported in Muhammad (2018). Greater percentage of the citizens lives...

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