Contraceptive Access - My Nigerian Experience
As a young boy growing up in Benin City, Nigeria. I had a best friend who was also my classmate and sat next to me at secondary school. Her name was Martha, Martha was the brightest in our class she excelled at Science subjects mainly biology, physics, and chemistry. She always shared her dream of becoming a scientist and discovering the cure for HIV/AIDS. We were in our third year in secondary school, Martha was 14 going on 15 in a few months’ time. I came to school one morning to see her obituary poster pasted on our school notice board, my best friend Martha had died while procuring unsafe abortion. This and more are stories of how young girls lose their lives due to a lack of access to Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education and services.
According to the Guttmacher institute Nigeria, approximately 95 girls lose their lives daily to unsafe abortion. If my friend had access to a comprehensive education on sexuality in school, she would have had adequate knowledge to delay her sexual debut or knowledge of modern contraceptive methods. I believe this would have prevented an unwanted pregnancy and subsequently unsafe abortion which ended her young and promising life.
Deaths resulting from unsafe abortion is one of the myriads of problem that stem from a lack of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and education for women and girls in Nigeria. Another consequence of a lack of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services is the ever high prevalence of HIV amongst Nigeria's young people aged 15-30. 55% of those affected are young women and girls (various articles suggest HIV is sexist).
As a young man who is deeply passionate and strongly driven about increasing women and girls' access to sexual and reproductive health and rights education and services, my main focus is on access to contraception services devoid of stigma, judgment, or discrimination of any sort. My main emphasis is on underserved youths, marginalized communities of young people, and discriminated against adolescents.
I have worked as a youth volunteer for the past 5 years with the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), a leading organization in the SRHR/Family planning (FP) space in Nigeria. I was involved in research that served as an evidence base for program implementation tailored to increase young people’s access and uptake of SRHR/FP services and education in Nigeria. I currently work as a program officer for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) with the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, Edo State Office. Through this organization, I have been able to reach over 2000 in and out of school youths with CSE which has increased their knowledge and uptake of modern contraceptive methods. I strongly believe that improving young people’s access to comprehensive SRHR education and services for women and girls is essential to reaching the SDGs in Nigeria.