As Nigeria celebrates the 2019 World Population Day, critical stakeholders in the health sector have urged the federal government to invest in family planning programmes that can help stem the tide of the negative impact of unbridled population explosion on the country resources and stability.
Stakeholders who spoke with LEADERSHIP said Nigeria’s rising population remains a threat to the country’s economic and social development and the little resources apportioned for a certain number of people is being stretched to more people due to the large population, thereby stagnating future development and advancement of the country.
The country director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Jega Farouk said as Nigeria joins in the celebration of 2019 World Population Day, 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.
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 need 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, adding that prioritizing 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.
ONE Champion, Fausiat Balogun, says government needs to fulfill the youth declaration of creating three million jobs each year for young people, tackle corruption, healthcare, education, gender equality and agriculture.
Investment and policies that unlock the potential of young Nigerians will help to harness the demographic dividend and also help avoid a population disaster, especially as young people are currently more than half of the population, says Balogun, adding that if these actions are taken, the issue of mental health instability, drug abuse and other social vices among young people will be curbed, if not totally eradicated.
She said accelerating the ICPD promise on some issues is paramount as these issues remain unsolved till now. “Also, maternal mortality ratio remains unacceptably high. Modern contraceptive rate remains unacceptably low, s*xual violence is on the increase. We have a long way to go but we need to start by managing our population strategically and critically,” she added.