03/Sep/2014 - Last News Update: 02:48

'I want to stop giving birth' after nine pregnancies

Category: Health

Published: 10th Jul 2012 07:48:26

One out of every 10 couples in Nigeria uses contraception - but in Jigawa, a rural state in the north I visited, the rate is 1%, although services are now being provided here that did not exist four years ago.

Evidence published in The Lancet suggests providing more contraception around the world could save 100,000 lives every year, by stopping many women from dying in childbirth.

And a big international meeting in London this week will give details of new funding for contraception in developing countries.

The event has been jointly organised by the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

There's a widely believed notion that God provides for whomever he creates, so this means some people think there's no reason to limit the size of your family”

Nigeria will be among the countries on the agenda - its population is 167 million and rising.

I found family-planning services there are starting from a low base, and need to be planned as a part of many other essential health needs.

Women holding babies stood patiently in a queue for a malnutrition clinic at a basic health centre, consisting of two huts, in Katika village.

Zaliha Alhassan, 35, has had eight children and two miscarriages.

Speaking through a translator, she told me: "I am glad to have been given a contraceptive jab. It lasts three months."

Hadiza Damina has also had the contraceptive injection. She seems relieved to have a break from pregnancy - after three children and also six miscarriages.

She said: "I want to stop giving birth because of the difficulties I encounter each time. It's not easy, it's been very sorrowful for me."

Both women live in mud-built homes near the clinic. Jigawa is a traditional, conservative and mainly Muslim society.

British aid worth £3m, from the UK's Department for International Development (DfID), boosts Nigerian government funds in paying for the injections and other contraceptives.

It is a subtle relationship, in which the Africans are expected to do the running, by starting services and generating projects.

The donor then steps in to support schemes - giving advice on training midwives, for example - and carefully scrutinise progress. Even talking about "family planning" is sensitive in Nigeria though.

Jigawa's health commissioner, Hassana Adamu, said: "There's a widely believed notion that God provides for whomever he creates, so this means some people think there's no reason to limit the size of your family.

Many of these women cannot afford to continue bearing children - they are looking for a way out”

"So we call the programmes 'child spacing' - and explain it's about women spacing out their births, so their bodies have ample time to recover and prepare for the next pregnancy."

While I was in Nigeria, remarks from President Goodluck Jonathan that alluded to the prospect of introducing a law on birth control caused a storm.

The government insisted he had been misquoted. But ministers do acknowledge the population cannot keep growing at 3% a year without economic growth that reaches everyone.

Mike Egboh runs a programme called Paths 2, which is trying to improve how health systems in Nigeria function using schemes such as repairing hospitals.

Mr Egboh's motivation is highly personal - his own mother died in labour during her 11th pregnancy.

He told me: "Many of us here in Africa were not planned children.

"I've seen women being wheeled out of the labour room dead. I stayed at a hospital one day - and within three hours, there were five dead bodies. Five. I'm not kidding - I was there."

Paths 2's state team leader in Jigawa, Abubakar Kende, said: "Many of these women cannot afford to continue bearing children. They are looking for a way out.

"They used to lack the information - but now we're providing it and the contraceptive commodities are there, free of charge. So I feel the barriers will soon be overcome."

The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said: "It is a shocking fact that pregnancy can be a death sentence for many girls and women in the developing world.

"What is all the more devastating is that many of these pregnancies were unintended.

"That is why the British government and the Gates Foundation are hosting a summit in London on 11 July, which we hope will cut in half the number of girls and women, who want contraception to delay or space their pregnancies but are unable to access it."

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. 'I want to stop giving birth' after nine pregnancies [Online] (Updated 10th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1439614/I-want-to-stop-giving-birth-after-nine-pregnancies [Accessed 3rd Sep 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Ukraine crisis: Obama in Estonia ahead of Nato summit

    US President Barack Obama is on his way to Estonia for talks on Russia and the Ukraine crisis with Baltic leaders.
  • Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it

    All diets - from Atkins to Weight Watchers - have similar results and people should simply pick the one they find easiest, say researchers.
  • Credit Suisse investigating two traders over misconduct

    Swiss bank Credit Suisse is investigating two of its traders in London over allegations of misconduct.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Nato summit: £3.5bn armoured vehicle deal to be signed

    A £3.5bn deal for nearly 600 new armoured vehicles will be signed in Caerphilly county ahead of the Nato summit.
  • Scottish independence: Moderator calls for respect on both sides

    The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has urged both sides in the referendum debate to treat each other with respect.