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The Impact Of Family Planning Campaign on Couples in Nigeria

The Impact Of Family Planning Campaign on Couples in Nigeria (A Case Study of Ibagwa Couples in Igbo Eze South Local Government Area  Enugu State)

 The idea of family planning is not new, but the methods used are new. The methods available are the Natural and Artificial methods (Golden, 1986). The choice of method as noted by Liwellyn Jones (1993) depends on a complicated mixture of social, cultural and psychological influences, and the special circumstances of the couple.

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Enumerating the methods available, Liwellyn – Jones (1993), Anyakoha and Eluwa (1991) started that artificial method includes the use of contraceptive like Douche, Diaphram, Condom, IUD, Tubal, Ligation, Operations Vasectomy, abortionspill, injections and foams, Jellies and Vaginal tablets to prevent pregnancy. The natural methods, on the other hand, is based on the simple observance of nature without interfering with nature in any way. Supporting this assertion, Abu (1989) quoting the international federation natural family planning methods are means by which the couples uses the daily observation of signs and symptom of the fertile and infertile phases as the menstrual cycle to guide the timing of intercourse according to their desire to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Further to this, the Planned Parenthood federation of Nigeria profile (1968) and Liwellyn – Jones (1993) classified natural methods into three as Basal Body Temperature (BBT) the Cervical Mucous Method (CMM) and the Symplithothermal Method (S-TM) and Calendar Method; with the calendar method as the oldest.

Supporting the use of natural methods, Pope Pius XII, as quoted in Encyclopedia of Health and Human Body (1977) stated that the publicly approved family planning method is the regulation of births by the rhythm method which consists of abstinence during the months when a woman is most likely to become pregnant. However, Tokede (1995) supporting Uhio and Onyekuaba (1995) supporting the use of modern methods of family planning stated that emphasis should be placed on the fact that babies should be by choice not by chance. In the same vein, Owolabi (1978) also in Uhio and Onyekwaba (1995) added that:

It is sometimes said that modern family planning is the concern of the individual, while population control is that of the government. But that these works include not only instructions to individuals as to how they could best enjoy themselves sexually, but also how woman could avoid the inevitable result of such enjoyment.

The above position of Owolabi agrees with the opinion of Sancer (1986) who has said “No woman can call herself free, who does not own and control her body.

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There exist also traditional methods of family planning. A Deleye (1982) quoted in Uhio and Onyekwaba (1995) listed the following as alternative methods: dinking from dead camels mouth, wearing of deadly charms, such as dead spiders, around the neck, jumping up and down to dislodge the sperm deposited and appealing to spirits to drive away evil spirits that come in form of unwanted pregnancies.

Need for family planning

Large population has its consequences, especially when it is not matched with a corresponding economic and social growth. In the same vein, desire for large population could result in high material and child morality, especially in under and developing countries. Hence, efforts directed at ensuring that couples have enough information on the matter.

Family planning is seen as one of the measures of ensuring economic growth and national development (Nnubia, 1999, Liwellyn-Jones, 1993). Both agree that standards of living, unemployment, poor quality education and general under development have relationship with family planning. Implied in the above assertion is the thinking of World Health Organization (WHO, 1971); Lucas (1968); Suleiman (1992) that family planning is an important health measure which contributes to the health of the mother and child, and thus an important contributor to any efforts aimed at the improvement in the status of woman. It is in recognition of this that the then commissioner of health Enugu State, in his address at the launching of the state chapter of the National policy on population in 1990 stated inter alia…………..

We of the Enugu State ministry of health determined to pursue very aggressively family planning in both urban and rural area. Plans have been completed to strengthen primary health department in all L.G. councils for the purpose of executing this programme. We hereby urge all families in Enugu State to embrace our family planning services which are totally free.

The contributing on the Isse, Sai (1985) pointed out that child spacing can improve the livelihood of survival and good physical and emotional health of the entire family at all stages of life. And that the risks associated with foetal death, birth defects, infant or child morality and maternal mortality can be reduced through effective family planning. This could, as stated population reference Burea (1997) be achieved through enabling woman to prevent unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, retention from sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and AIDS, and avoiding birth as those of very young women, closely spaced births and birth to woman who are old and already have many children.

Again, one can look at the advantage of family planning from the perspective of cost of education, such that a couple would plan their procreation in such a way that they can afford to train their children in schools. Supporting this view, Fatunwa, as quoted Odigbo and Eze (1995) reason that our world of today is different from the world of our forefathers, hence, excessive child bearing without thought for the future education and care of the children should be condemned by every right thinking Nigerian. He finally intoned that “If one thinks of the cost f education alone, only an irrespective parent will turn deaf ear to family planning.

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Factors Militating Against Adoption of Family Planning

Family planning until recently is a very sensitive subject in Black Africa is now being increasingly accepted as a necessary ingredient of socio-economic development (Odigbo and Eze, 1995). The practice is now accepted as an important health measure, contributing to the health of children (Liwellyn – Jones, 1993) and as an important contributor to efforts aimed at the improvement of woman (W.H.O, 1971).

Despite the accepted importance of family planning, some factors work against its total acceptance. In the religious ream, the catholic church is in the forefront of opposition to adoption of regulation of birth. This is expressed in the opinion of Okogie (1990) who submitted that “any attempt to restrict child birth amounts to distraction of nature – affair reaching consequence for anyone first doing that”. In a relative view, the Catholic Herad (1990) reporting the feeling of the Muslim youth organization, on the issue of birth control observed that the organization voiced their opposition to any form of control, calling on the government to reconsider its policy on the issue.

Reacting to this Uhio and Onyekwaba (1995) opined that this is based on the belief by most people that children are God’s gift and therefore it is wrong for any one to make attempt at limiting the number of children they should have or trying to terminate any pregnancy.

In its commentary, the Daily Time Newspaper (Thursday, 17th February; 1994) quoted one Dr, Joseph Torne of the Philippines as saying:

“Spouses who practice artificial contraception treat each other as prostitutes. What they are saying to each other is ……….” I want to enjoy you sexually but taking no risk of pregnancy, I do not want children, only pleasure.

The implication of the above statement would be better appreciated if one recall that artificial contraception is one of the methods of family planning. Hence, any criticism, mobilizing people to shun family planning practices.

Observing the factors of culture in family planning adoption, Uhio and Onyekwaba (1995) recalled the issue of the “male child importance” whereby the man may even marry many more wives (and different more unplanned births) in the search of a male child. They attributed this to the believed importance of the male child as the heir apparent in the eventful demise of the father. Still on the role culture could play, in militating against the adoption of family planning practices, is the issue of the kind of occupation under taken by agrarian society, especially in the under and developing states, would need more hands in the farms which serve as their main source of employment and therefore livelihood. Okeke (1988) shares this view when he noted that in the under – developed countries where  mechanized farming system is not common men marry more wives so as to raise enough children that would assist in the farm.

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Another factor hinge on ignorance on the part of some couples, it should be noted that some couples are ignorant of the existence of and use of modern family planning methods. Added to this factor of ignorance is the issue of associated fear in the use of these modern methods and in the general adoption of family planning practices. This could be termed a problem of illiterature on the concept. Under-scoring the factor Uhio and Onyekwaba (1995) noted that majority of these concerned in the non-adoption of family planning practices are illiterates and therefore not well informed.

Summarily, factors seen as militating against the adoption of family planning practices include: illiteracy (Uhio and Onyekwaba, 1995), culture of the people (Uhio and Onyekwaba, 1995; Okeke, 1988) religion (Uhio and Onyekwaba, 1995; Okogie, 1990).

 

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