The National Population Commission on Monday in Abuja expressed concern over the menace of pregnancy-related deaths. It also stated that only 10 per cent of sexually active Nigerians were using contraceptives.
The commission said the percentage was “abysmally low”, even in Africa where Botswana has 39 per cent contraceptives prevalence rate; Kenya (32 per cent), Zambia (23 per cent), Tanzania (20 per cent), Ghana (19 per cent), South Africa (55 per cent) and Indonesia (57 per cent).
The chairman of NPC, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, represented by the commission’s Federal Commissioner representing the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Sani Suleiman, raised the alarm at a press briefing in commemoration of the World Population Day with the theme, ‘Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services.’
Quoting the 2008 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey, he put the age at first dual intercourse for girls at 15 and 18 for boys while the median age for women at first birth is 20.4 years.
He said, “The total fertility rate in Nigeria is 5.7 while the average number of children per woman ranges from 4.7 in urban areas to 6.3 in rural areas. Twenty per cent of our women in Nigeria are already mothers or are pregnant with their first child, 52, 900 women and girls die every year from pregnancy-related causes. For every woman that dies, at least 20 others suffer morbidities such as obstetric fistula, infections and disabilities.”
According to the NPC chairman, the statistics give a grim picture of the health status of reproductive women aged between 15 and 39.
He said, “The whole world is trending towards smaller families. We cannot continue to lag behind and be bogged down by cultural inclinations that are retrogressive to our women’s right to education, health and all the benefits of life. The contraceptives prevalence rate in Nigeria is only 10 per cent; this is abysmally low even for African standards.”