By Bashir Hassan Abubakar
Towards increasing uptake of family planning services among couples for improved health outcomes, an expert in the area of reproductive health Dr. Ejike Oji has tasked media practitioners to give visibility to efforts of stakeholders in their advocacy drive for uptake of contraceptive and other family planning services for improved health outcomes in communities.
The call was made by Dr. Oji, at the just concluded Webinar stakeholders meeting to commemorate the 2021 World Contraception Day, organised by the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN).
He said that the media is the cement that makes the different approaches of other key stakeholders in reproductive health into a whole that can have positive impact on set objectives.
Dr. Oji, who recalled the role media played in giving birth to the VAPP law that seek to checkmate incessant cases of SGBV, also commended members of the pen profession for their active participation during the midwife service scheme campaign, stressing that the future for NRHJN is bright.
The expert then called on all stakeholders to seek for information regarding reproductive health in order to carry out effective and efficient advocacy to target groups.
“We must ask for information like where to access services, what are the options to try, et al. This will equip us to advocate that contraceptive is the key to a healthy living.
“Family planning is one of the most individualised services because of the options it provides. There is a package for everybody base on everyone’s need.
“Not having the right information could lead to unwanted pregnancy, which leaves couples with either keeping the pregnancy or sometimes having unsafe abortions that may lead to lose of lives”, said Dr. Oji.
Dr. Oji, who also doubles as the BOT chairman of the Network and CSOs focal person of Global Family Planning 2030 said that one of the major causes of infertility in Nigeria is unsafe abortion.
He also disclosed that some modelling carried out revealed that contraception use reduces maternal mortality by 40 percent.
Earlier in a welcome remark, national president of NRHJN, Yinka Shokunbi informed participants that the formation of the NRHJN in 2010 was particularly as a result of the gap that existed especially with regards to getting out development messages and information on empowerment from sexual and reproductive health reports (SRHR), partners and allies to the people who really need the information for growth and societal development.
Shokunbi said that the noticeable gaps were in such a way that people meant to be beneficiaries of SRHR programmes never got the right and appropriate messages to make informed decisions that would result in changed behaviour or engage government in demanding for accountability and for a better society.
She maintained that the Network since coming into the Reproductive Health space has made significant difference to intended target audience.
“Since inception in 2010, the Network has been involved in various activities of interest such as advocacy for the de-criminalisation of the Abortion Laws in the Nigerian Constitution; Advocacy for the passage and domestication (at state levels) the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law; Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Campaign; Campaign to end Endometriosis and Rights to Fertility Treatment; Advocacy for Availability of Family Planning Commodities, End to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and other Harmful Traditional Practices; Access to Breast and Cervical Cancers Prevention, Care and Treatment among several other reproductive health issues that affect women and girls and people with disabilities in Nigeria.
“Over the past ten years, the Network continues to build on strength of its members to further support the society as the solution voice.
“Today’s event is a testament of what we do and will continue to do in our ten years of trudging on. We have brought key partners in government, providers, CSOs,FBOs, academia and we ourselves, media practitioners under this room to discuss and channel solutions to issues of contraception and contraceptives in the midst of covid-19 pandemic, insecurity and how young people can stay safe and not be sorry in life.
“For us as Network of Reproductive Health Journalists, we believe that when we bring an array of people like we have today, to jaw jaw, it is part of taking ownership of the raging issue. We are not restricting ourselves to the back of the burner to merely report what is happening, but we see ourselves as part of proffering solutions”, said Shokunbi.
While urging participants to lay it bare as it is, in a no-holds-bar manner , the president of the Network said that the current alarming state of insecurity is another level of concern as kidnappings, abductions go on daily and young girls fall victims of rape, sexual violence and the likes.
She further disclosed that, “all inputs presented during the meeting would be captured and published into a compendium to mark our 10th anniversary and to give back to the society a legacy from the stable of reproductive health writers and our perspective on how to be solution Journalists”.
Our correspondent reports that the Webinar meeting with the theme, “Contraception During Covid-19 and Beyond: Role of Government, Providers and Media in Ensuring Youths Are Safe, Not Sorry” attracted over 80 participants drawn from Government, International partners, service providers, CSOs, Youth groups, Academia, Media and FBOs.