Addis Ababa (WorldStage Newsonline)-- With birth rate per woman at 5.7, the Federal Government of Nigeria has ruled out regulating birth control as a means of managing the country’s fast growing population.
Minister of State for Health, Mohammed Ali Pate, who was part of President Goolduck Jonathan’s delegation to the 22nd World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, the Capital of Ethiopia disclosed this after his session on health with focus on child and maternal mortality as well as youth and women's health.
The minister noted that rather than enacting laws to regulate the number of child per family, government will allow each family to make the choice on the number of children while government will intensify its maternal health education and awareness programmes.
“I think we have to respect the right of household or an individual to make choices. But they should make informed choices and they should be empowered to make those choices. So, for people who want to have many children they should be able to do that and those who want to regulate should be able to do that.
“The problem we have is that lots of women suffer from illiteracy and are not able to participate in the wider economy as they should; and then women may want to have reproductive health services but do not have access.”
Pate further stressed that Nigeria’s population “is growing at 3.2 per cent and the total fertility rate is 5.7 per cent for our women, which means that an average woman is expected to have 5.7 children in her life time, saying “this does not allow them to participate meaningfully to the growth and economic development of the country.”
The minister however said that the situation was redeemable as the country recorded appreciable success in other global maternal indices as “the federal government is currently paying attention to issues of child and maternal mortality as well as youth and women's health.”
He further stressed the need to have a health youth population, which according to him was paramount to development of the country and the continent.
“Africa’s population is about one billion now and will be two billion by 2015 and almost five billion in few years to come. As the population increases the youth population which is a large chunk also increases; and that is the capital that we need to grow our economy.
“To preserve that capital, we need to invest in not only the education of our youth but also in the health of our youth so that they are healthy, have cognitive development that will enable them participate in the economy, engage in the workforce and contribute to our economic development and be responsible citizens.
“To address that and to enable us reap the demographic dividends’ in the future, things like reproductive health services, access to maternal health services, saving the lives of our mothers, maternal mortality rate reduction, the contraceptives’ use for those who are willing and interested in using them, form an important part.
“We need to seize the moment to invest in our youth; we need to invest in our mothers, so that we have the human capital that will further fuel economic growth.”
He also stressed the need to provide basic education, especially for the girl child, at the primary and post secondary levels, “so that they will be in the position to negotiate within the context of the family, as well as the society as a whole.”