Monday, 29 July 2019

Family Planning: Health Experts Task FG On Funding To Check Population Explosion

Studies have shown that family planning protects the health of women and children as well as reduces ugly risky overpopulation burdens by helping a family to plan and responsibly fulfill its parental roles.
The media is replete with many reports which X-rays the roles of family planning in population control, more so in view of the newest Nigeria’s population figures which is put at 201 million.
It was therefore not surprising that critical stakeholders in the health sector have urged the Federal Government to invest in family planning programmes to check population explosion.
There call came at the background of the just concluded 2019 World Population Day celebration.
Stakeholders, who spoke with DAILY INDEPENDENT, said Nigeria’s rising population remained a threat to the country’s economic and social development.
They maintained that the little resources meant for certain number of people, were being stretched for more people due to the large population, thereby stagnating the country’s future development and advancement.
The Country Director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Jega Farouk, said the focus of this year’s World Population Day should be on how to address the country’s impending demographic explosion.  With our population estimated to be the fourth highest in the world by 2030, Farouk said Nigeria should focus on how to ensure a more sustainable population growth, by increasing access to voluntary and quality family planning services.
 “Unfortunately, the 2019 budget as signed by the President shows a reduction, rather than an increase in the budget allocation for contraceptive commodities in the country,” he added.
He said the impact of unchecked population growth, especially one that does not align with GDP growth, needs to be understood and addressed.
“We will be heading for a demographic disaster with the current growth rate in population, especially given that the majority of the populace is made up of young people who should be productive.
“Unfortunately, they are mostly untrained, uneducated, unskilled and unemployed.
The result is the increased spates of insecurity we are currently faced with.
This therefore calls for government intervention to address this unsustainable growth rate,” says the Country Director.
He said; “Fortunately, we have an opportunity to turn this demographic scenario into an opportunity to achieve the so-called demographic dividend.
This window of opportunity will not last forever, and will not happen automatically.
“We have to invest in the education, health (include access to family planning) and jobs for these army of young people, turn them into a productive workforce that will contribute to our GDP growth.
“The media can support information and public awareness efforts in communities.
There are many misconceptions around family planning that can be addressed with the right information.”
Farouk however urged the media to consistently provide correct and easily understood information on the advantages of family planning dispel misconceptions around side effects and hold government accountable to fulfill its FP2020 and other commitments made in support of family planning.
On his part, Programme Director, Development Communications (DevComs) Network, Akin Jimoh said 25 years after the historic International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), there is need to support the National Population Commission (NPoPC) to reflect on the best ways to solve the issue of population explosion in Nigeria.
The government needs to place population management at the front burner of their policy making and allocation of resources, especially investment in programmes like family planning services, says Jimoh in a statement to mark the international day.
He added that prioritising and investing in family planning will help the government save money that can be invested in other development programmes like education, health and job creation.
Contributing, the Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), Dr. Ejike Oji decried the challenges of Nigeria’s bourgeoning population and the Federal Government’s approach in tackling the menace.
Dr. Oji told DAILY INDEPENDENT that there was a disconnection between what the nation was currently doing and what it was supposed to do in terms of policies and the actions being taken.
For example, he noted that the country currently has a demographic crisis: 64 per cent of the nation’s population is under the age of 25 years and  45 per cent of the population is under the age of 15 years, making them a largely dependent and largely unemployable.
According to him, the only place that these categories of persons can be employed is in the agrarian industry, adding that although, the Federal Government was doing a lot to improve that sector, it was not paying off, considering that people could not return to the farms based on increasing insecurity in that sector.
Similarly, Oji cited the examples of Nigerian professionals migrating to overseas, where they were seeking greener pastures. Over 40,000 Nigerians are practicing medicine abroad. 
“This is just a tip of the iceberg,” Oji said, adding that there were many in Europe, Canada and elsewhere.
Similarly, Oji noted that the one that was mind boggling was what was happening with the nation’s unskilled migrant population, given the risk to their lives while crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.  He cited the example of nine Nigerians that were killed recently at migrant camp in Libya.
The latest examples, he said was evident in what is happening in the country where nationals were killing nationals: militancy in the south west, kidnappings in the Niger-Delta, ethno-religious crisis in the Plateau, Boko Haram in the north east, banditry in the North West and farmer-herders crisis taking place all over the federation.        
Placing these background  in perspective, the chairman of AAFP said these are the kind of activities that could happen when a nation’s youthful populations were largely unemployed, saying they would be easily recruited by mischief makers, religious bigots, kidnappers, robbers, among others because they got nothing doing.
Highlighting other factors hindering Nigeria from curbing its population at an appreciable rate, he said in the 2019 appropriation, family planning budget was slashed by over 80 per cent.
Instead of $4 million dollars, what the federal government released was about $980,000 dollars as counterpart funding, meanwhile the country needs about $26 million dollars to purchase family planning commodities. “That is why I said there was a disconnection between what we are doing and what we are supposed to be doing”.
Oji further blamed a lot of state governments for inaction. While the Federal Government purchases family planning commodities, he lamented that most of the state governments that were supposed to buy the consumables with which to administer the family planning commodities do not have budget lines.
“This is why the prevalence of family planning uptake in the country remains low at 12 per cent, going the 2019 NDHS.”
While family planning prevalence in the country for about 10 years was 10 per cent of women in their reproductive age 15 to 45 years, Oji was worried that unmet need is about 19 per cent of people in their reproductive age. 
“This is very low and calls for worry,” he said. Unmet need is the number of women of reproductive age who want to use family planning, but are not getting the services due to one reason or another.
Oji said, “There is no way the populace can get democratic dividends until we reduce our fertility rate.”
On the solution, Oji called for extra-budgetary allocation to make up for family planning budget that was under-funded. 
He also urged state governments to come together and put money into the common basket that the federal government uses, which could be given to the UNFPA to increase the commodities that are purchased for the country.
According to Oji, the real disaster would happen next year because the country does forward-buying. “The UNFPA pays for the family planning commodities one year in advance.
“Sadly, this year, we have a shortfall of about $8 million dollars. If that shortfall is not met, it means that next year, we will not have commodities.
“There will be a great shortage of family planning commodities next year. That is a disaster waiting to happen.”
He lamented that the country already has an unmet need of 19 per cent. Nineteen per cent of women in the reproductive age 15 to 49 years are saying: we need this family planning, but we are not getting it.”
The gyneacologist said if the country invests in health, appropriate education, provides an environment of justice, peace and tranquility and creates at the atmosphere that would create jobs, “Nigeria will transform to be a very rich country. But, if we do not, it is anarchy.”

Gambari Tasks Stakeholders On Empowerment Of Women, Youth For National Growth

Some members of the Board of Fellows of the Pharmaceuticals Society of Nigeria (BOF-PSN) during dinner\ awardnight held by BOF-PSN in Lagos recently.

As BOF For Pharmacists Holds First Public Lecture

Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, former Ambassador and Nigeria’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations (UN), has said that there is need for Nigeria to empower its huge population of women and youth if the nation’s quest for growth would be meaningful.
Gambari, who spoke at the first public lecture of the Board of Fellows of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (BOF- PSN), in Lagos recently, urged stakeholders to invest immensely towards the growth of women and youth to enable them contribute to national development.
The Eminent scholar and Diplomat reasoned that if Nigeria empowers her vast youth population and women they will be able to make invaluable contribution that will help save the nation.
Professor Gambari who spoke on the topic; ‘Rebirth of Nigeria: Harnessing the Great Potentials’ however enjoined women and youth to accept the responsibility to compete and take over leadership positions, observing that nobody willingly gives out power.
Speaking further, Prof. Gambari explained that the most important factor in any political organisation is governance which depends largely on the personalities elected into political offices. 
According to him, there can be no rebirth for the country without good governance and taking personal and collective responsibility for making Nigeria a better country for all.
He said, every Nigerian must rise to the challenge of the times and citizens must not relent in demanding only the best from those at the helm of governance.
To this end, he called for the appointment of competent leaders with vision from all parts of the country who will work in unity to take Nigeria out of the woods. Besides, he stressed that the importance of collective leadership in carrying out effective governance that will move the country forward.
To this end, he called for the appointment of competent leaders with vision from all parts of the country who will work in unity to take Nigeria out of the woods. Besides, he stressed that the importance of collective leadership in carrying out effective governance that will move the country forward.
He decried the standards and processes for recruitment and the performance of our leaders over the years, noting that this has left much to be desired across all the three levels of government.
Prof. Gambari also said that the civil society, NGOs, youths, traditional leaders have a critical role in taking the country back from the grip of visionless leadership anchored in faulty leadership selection process.
While calling for the institution of good governance, Gambari lamented that Nigerians have been following a dangerous narrative of going from one election to another, for instance, going from 2015 to 2019, etc. 
The Diplomat noted that the nation has paid the price in divided societies, persistent poverty, growing inequality, massive corruption, flagrant and pre-mediated abuse of power and office, wastage of public institutions, high level of urban violence, a disaffected youth and marginalised women.
On the issue of economic recession, he said; “Another problem is poverty; if we don’t address these problems of Nigeria, people will link the country with Somalia, Yugoslavia and similar countries in such categories.”
The former Ambassador further condemned the deployment of military to the highways as part of strategies to watch flash points on the roads, noting that it was not part of the work of the military as defined by the constitution.
Gambari therefore, advised the federal government to seek help from the international community in finding lasting solutions to the numerous challenges currently facing the country including the Boko Haram and other forms of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, among others.  
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the federal government would engage the military to watch flashpoints on Nigeria roads, when he visited Pa Reuben Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere group, to condole with him over the killing of his daughter, Mrs. Olufunke Olakunrin along Benin-Ore Highway at about 2pm on last Friday.
However, Gambari said; “We should not be afraid to ask for help in tackling terrorism, the BokoHaram menace, banditary, kidnapping, among other vices plaguing the nation.”
According to Gambari, there will not be Sierra Leone, and South Africa today, without the assistance Nigeria and other nations provided those countries during their trial period.
Arising from this premise, he advised; “We should be free to ask for help. We should not pigeon-hole ourselves in fighting the numerous challenges facing currently facing us.”
According to Gambari who is Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Developnment, “Nation building is a continuous process.”
Going back to the contributions of the founding fathers of the country, Gambari said they strengthened the regions which resulted in harnessing the competitive spirit of the various regions.
Sadly, he noted that the central government has currently become over-strengthened, while the regional governments have become weak.
On the political structure that the nation should adopt in addressing the problem, Gambari called for continuous national conversations to enable the nation agree on the way forward.
According to him, Nigeria should not be afraid to amend its constitution, citing the example of the United States (US), which has amended its constitution 27 times.
He also said, the country must tackle the several enemies of the nation including poverty, ethnic and religious divisions, corruption, lack of delivery of social services, which are part of the factors making the health, transportation systems and others unworkable.
He further tasked stakeholders to ensure that the Federal structure in the country is adjusted to ensure good governance at all levels.
“We should be focused on good governance. While giving our leaders the free hands, nation-building must be based on solid foundation and there must be a continuum.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Osaretin Afusat Demuren who is Chairman of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, lamented the challenge that drug abuse among youths have imposed on the country and called of measures to ensure the non-prescriptive medicines should not be got from over the counter without doctor’s prescription.
In her welcome remarks, Prof. Mbang Femi-Oyewo, chairman, PSN-BOF said that the decision to have the first public lecture of the group was in fulfillment of its mandate to monitor government policies as they affect the practice of the profession and to address contemporary issues of importance within and outside the Pharmacy profession.
Prof. Femi-Oyewo noted that the theme of the lecture is quite apt and timely as Nigeria really needs a rebirth at all levels and all sectors, noting that the Pharmacy profession also needs a rebirth.
She said the Mid-Year Meeting, an annual event was aimed to monitor government policies as they affect the practice of the pharmacy profession and pharmacists
Other eminent personalities at the event were Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy; Pharm. (Sir) Nnamdi Obi, chairman, Planning Committee and Pharm. N.A.E. Mohammmed, registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN)

Nigeria Needs Innovative Approach To Fight Drug Abuse – Yakasai

Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, Immediate Past President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN, was the keynote Speaker during the 38th Annual National Scientific Conference of the Association of Community Pharmacists in Nigeria tagged ACPN Kano 2019. He spoke with CHIOMA UMEHA at the sideline of the conference on the Menace of Drug Abuse in the country. Experts:

How do you feel speaking at the Association of Community Pharmacists in Nigeria (ACPN) Kano 2019 Conference?
 I was told to speak on the theme, “Tackling Menace of Drug Abuse in Nigeria: A Disruptive Innovative Approach.”  Indeed, this topic is apt and it is a topic that is dear to my heart for the last 36 years as a Pharmacist.  As I speak to you right now, a family somewhere in Nigeria may be experiencing financial hardship because one of their daughters is a drug addict. Perhaps, also somewhere a mother’s   heart is filled with sadness because her son whom she has invested all her resources to train is now a source of pain due to the influence of substance abuse. Many Nigerians have lost their lives because the criminals who attacked them are under the influence of drugs. My point is, drug abuse is now a menace in Nigeria and its consequences are all around us.

From your perspective, describe challenge of drug abuse in the country?
In 2018, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted a national survey in the country stating that in 2017, 10.6 million people abuse cannabis, 4.6 million Nigerians abuse opioids, 2.4 million abuse cough syrup containing codeine, 2.4 million people abuse sedatives ad tranquilizers, 481,000 people abuse ecstasy, 340,000 people abuse solvents and inhalants, 300,00 people abuse prescription inhalants and amphetamines and 92,000 people abuse cocaine. 
In other words, we currently have 21,213,000 people who abuse various substances. This confirms the fact that drug abuse is a cankerworm eating really deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society. This also calls for innovative approach towards tackling the menace of drug abuse in Nigeria.

What are the factors responsible for the spate of drug abuse in Nigeria?
Many factors have been identified as responsible for its insurgence. They include dysfunctional family systems in which parents who use drugs do not pay attention to the activities of their children and failure to reprimand them during the initial phase of drug use. There is also the high level of unemployment among the youth population predisposing them to idleness and consequently, crime and drug use to feel good and forget their worries.
Others are ignorance of the deleterious effects of substance abuse particularly in boosting physical activity, sexual gratification and recreational use; peer pressure and the desire to feel among; poverty and the desire to use drugs to achieve a sense of pleasure; poor awareness of the menace and dangers of drug abuse.
There are also poor drug distribution system which allows the sale and peddling of controlled psychoactive drugs by unqualified persons; social media influence which exposes youths to newer trends of substance abuse, promotion of drug abuse thus inspiring curiosity to try using drugs; traditional beliefs about substance use especially alcohol and cigarette which promote early use of psychoactive substances hence breeding more difficult cases of addiction; lack of sufficient rehabilitation facilities to help treat victims of substance use disorders who can serve as counselors with first hand experiences to influence young people to stay away from substances of abuse, among others.

What are the social impacts of drug abuse in our society?
Health problems impair family life and productiveness of employees, diminish the quality of life and may threaten survival. Deaths as a result of drug abuse are a major source of concern. Recent informal estimates are that perhaps 200,000 drug-injecting-related deaths may occur per annum based on the estimated size of the current world population of injecting drug abusers of approximately 5.3 million (United Nations). The highest negative impact of drug abuse is felt in the health and wellbeing of the abuser.
The negative impact of drug abuse is highly felt by the family members and the immediate community of the abuser. Many young people who abuse drugs find it difficult to concentrate on their studies because of the negative impact of drug abuse. However, education is the principal means of preventing drug abuse. In addition to formal education in schools, other settings are important for the contributions they make to informal learning and socialisation.

What are your recommendations for curbing drug abuse in the country?
The menace of drug abuse among Nigerian youths had been shown to be a multifaceted one both in the area of causes and effects. Truly, no one or institution is spared of the consequences of this ugly and fast spreading and evolving trend. It is no doubt cancerous in nature and all hands must be on deck to arrest it by addressing the very fueling factors of this menace. Curbing Drug abuse particularly among Nigerian youths requires the efforts of the youths, their families, government, religious and traditional institutions, and regulatory agencies, non-governmental and other corporate organisations.
The youths should avoid taking drugs for recreational purposes and/or without the prescription of a trained healthcare provider and taking drugs from friends or exposing themselves to places or conditions where they can be drugged such as accepting opened drinks from casual friends and strange persons.
They should appreciate the value of hard work and practice as prerequisites for perfection and success rather than using drugs to achieve euphoria and inspiration. Most musical arts today live on drugs to put up dramatic stage performances and only a matter of time they eclipse from public scenes battling drug addiction or being incarcerated for crimes committed under the influence of drugs.
Youths should avoid resorting to drug abuse in order to feel good in times of emotional distress as drugs do not solve any problems but only temporarily makes them forget their pain causing damages in the body which linger even after the problem has been solved. Hence it is more profitable to speak to a trusted superior or a professional counselor at times of emotional difficulty.
They should discover their innate potentials, talents and special skills, develop desirable skills; acquire education or some other training so as to always stay busy, productive and useful to self, family and friends. By towing this line, there will be less time to indulge in drugs and associate with unproductive people.
 Parents and family members also have a role to play. They must seek to know the behavioural changes, symptoms associated with and consequences of substance abuse and be vigilant to these so as to detect early when their wards, children and/or family members are abusing drugs and provide help promptly.
Family members should avoid stigmatizing other members of the family who have problems with drug use or some form of challenge or the other. Many times this can cause the affected persons to feel less of them and resort to the abuse of drugs in order to derive pleasure for themselves. It is also very pertinent that drug use is detected and help sought promptly other than covering up the menace in order to save face. The practice of giving alcohol to little children to ‘make them strong and tough’ only predisposes them to severe cases of addiction in the future.
Families must be a harbour of love and understanding. Parents have a duty to show love to their children and wards, correcting them fairly with love, avoiding curses and violence. Parents must ensure open communication for thoughts and feelings with their children so as to know the difficulties of growing up which their children encounter and proffer solutions on time. Parents have a duty to be good examples to their children.

What role should government play in this?
Government should address unemployment and poverty! It has been established that unemployment of the youths which is at an alarming level is a frustrating experience which inspires indulgence into drug use. Government can help reduce the menace of substance abuse by putting in place measures and ensuring favourable business climes for the teeming population of youths to be engaged in meaningful work and have less time and motivation for drug use.
Government can do a lot to discourage drug use by punishing peddlers and unlicensed dispensers of controlled substances; avoid dispensing free cash to persons who have nothing doing.  It should develop and enforce laws and policies to frustrate the activities of drug traffickers, availability and cultivation of illicit drugs in the states and all over the country. This can also be done by placing huge taxes on alcohol beverages, tobacco and bans on sales or use of illicit substances.
Government must ensure that law enforcement agents like National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Police, and Judiciary are provided with adequate tools to work and rewarded for the good work they do. Punitive measures on drug users should be de-emphasised while appropriate laws to combat illicit access and use be promulgated and implemented.

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