Easy Access to Emergency Contraceptives Will Reduce Unplanned Pregnancies And Maternal Mortality Rate
The Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is developing a national training manual for service delivery personnel on Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs).
At a technical meeting with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and other stakeholders to review the emergency contraceptives’ (ECs) national training manual, which will be included in the National Family Planning Curriculum, experts advocated for easy access to emergency contraceptives for all women who want it who are at risk of unplanned pregnancies.
Some of the objectives of the meeting were to get technical inputs form various stakeholders on the draft ECP curriculum, to determine if the document meets the specific needs of the users, and to validate the usability, understandability and acceptability by relevant stakeholders.
Present at the meeting were officials of the reproductive health department of the Federal Ministry of Health and representatives of civil society organisations with a focus on family planning, such as: DKT Nigeria, IPAS, CHAI, Palladium, UNFPA, FHI 360, AAFP and NURHI.
Speaking at the event, President/Chief Executive Officer of ARFH, Professor Oladapo Ladipo said that there is strong evidence that emergency contraceptive pills be made available to any individual who wants it for one reason or the other.
Professor Ladipo stated that: “Every woman who is at risk of unplanned pregnancy due to exposure to sexual intercourse by choice, mistake or rape should be able to access emergency contraceptives anywhere and everywhere”.
“EC should be available every where including Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps as 90% of Nigerians who need it are not likely to go to a clinic”.
He reiterated that women should also carry emergency contraceptives, or whichever method they use, in their purses, just like some men carry condoms in their pockets or wallets to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
“It is a United Nations global policy to improve contraceptives access to anybody who is sexually active who needs a method of contraception, whether married or not married, whether living in urban or rural area”, he said
Dr Ejike Oji, chair of the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) stated that many young girls are sexually active and easy access to ECs will prevent pregnancy thereby reducing the maternal mortality rate in Nigeria.
Dr Oji said that “the age of sexual debut in Nigeria is about 15 years, a very visible, hard-to-reach age group and because many Nigerian parents are pretending that teenagers are not having sex, they are not giving them the relevant information or providing them the relevant services”.
“If you look at the Packard studies conducted a few years ago, 70% of all maternal deaths in Nigeria are below the age of 18, which means they got pregnant, and we are pretending that our children are not having sex; that’s why they are dying on a daily basis”, he said.
He also stated that many young girls and women get pregnant without planning to, because they lack information on various contraceptive methods in situations when their partner did not use condom correctly, promised not to ejaculate, or even rape and could die due to abortion or complicated delivery.
Professor Adeyemi Adekunle of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, who is the consultant that worked with a team to develop the EC manuals, said that the focus of the manual being developed is on the use of Levonorgestrel emergency contraception pills as a method.
“I’m hoping that most of the NGOs represented at this meeting will be able to convince their organisations that they should buy into the printing of the manuals”, he said.
Professor Adekunle reiterated that service provision of emergency contraceptives at clinics should include discussion with the clients about their reproductive health and chosen contraception plan.
ARFH and FMoH is implementing a short-term project on Emergency Contraceptives with support from Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the International Consortium on Emergency Contraception (ICEC), to develop and distribute nationwide, a national Emergency Contraceptive Pills training manual for service delivery personnel, trainers and trainees.