'I want to stop giving birth' after nine pregnancies
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."
At 05:01:28 in HeadlinesThousands of runners are preparing to take part in an emotional Boston Marathon amid unprecedented security.
At 04:45:06 in HeadlinesSouth Korean President Park Geun-hye has condemned the conduct of some of the crew of the ferry that sank last week, calling it "akin to murder".
At 04:30:05 in EnglandA huge fire on an industrial estate in Leeds has sent flames and a large plume of smoke up over the city.
At 03:16:30 in HeadlinesUkraine says it will launch an investigation into a fatal shooting in the east of the country which has raised tension with Russia further.
At 02:46:49 in HeadlinesFresh violence has erupted in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, between police and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.
At 02:43:14 in EnglandA "very English and very eccentric" tradition that dates back centuries is expected to attract thousands of people on Easter Monday.
At 02:41:42 in HeadlinesOnline social media is being misused to insult, intimidate and smear staff in schools, the conference of the NASUWT teachers' union will hear.
At 02:33:53 in BusinessJapan's trade deficit quadrupled in March as export growth slowed and energy imports continued to rise.
At 02:26:33 in HeadlinesTeachers are to debate calls for a boycott of tests for four-year-old pupils, set to be introduced in England's primary schools in 2016.
At 01:21:56 in EnglandFlood protection has been restored to more than 100,000 properties in England left at risk after the wettest winter on record.
Harvard CitationBBC 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 21st Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
An upstart rapidly rises from obscurity to become a household name by distributing a highly addictive product consumed by thousands.
David Cameron could cause "alienation" with his comments about Christianity in the UK, public figures have warned.
The incidence of the most serious skin cancer in Great Britain is now five times higher than it was in the 1970s, figures show.
After Joseph Heller published his seminal war novel Catch-22 he adapted the book for the stage. He hoped it would go to Broadway - but more than 40 years on, his script has very rarely been performed. Now it is finally getting its UK premiere.
Japan's trade deficit quadrupled in March as export growth slowed and energy imports continued to rise.
Scotland's first chocolate factory aroused suspicion at the outbreak of World War One. Why was it so strongly-built and why did it employ so many Germans? The authorities were called to investigate.