The richest women in Lagos use more family planning than the poorest

The richest women in Lagos state were more likely than their poorest counterparts to report using a family planning method. This is a finding from a recent survey by the Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020-Nigeria (PMA2020-NG) research team and holds true for both modern methods [pills, condoms, injectables, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants] and traditional methods (withdrawal and periodic abstinence).

PMA2020 is a quick turn-around mobile-assisted survey that collects data on a regular basis to monitor performance towards the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal of reaching 120 million additional women and girls in the poorest countries with life-saving contraceptives.

The survey results were disseminated on 25 October 2016 at an event at the Lagos State Ministry of Health chaired by the Commissioner and attended by 40 family planning stakeholders in the state.  The survey showed that 33 percent of married women in Lagos state aged 15-49 years were using a family planning method. The survey also showed that the poorest women were more than twice as likely as the richest women to report that they were not using a family planning method, even though they wished to postpone their next birth for at least 2 years, were unsure if or when they wanted another child, or already had all the children they wanted. These women are said to have an “unmet need for family planning”.

These disparities between the rich and the poor are of concern, given the state of the Nigerian economy and the obvious fact that those who can least afford an unplanned pregnancy due to their economic status will be the most likely to have one if they remain sexually active and do nothing to avoid becoming pregnant. The challenge for the Lagos state government and family planning stakeholders is to find a way to financially assist these poor women to access the family planning method of their choice, so they can decide (along with their partners) if and when to have children. This is essential because despite the widespread information that contraception is free, the survey showed that 1 in 10 public facilities and 7 in 10 private facilities charge for family planning services. The involvement of the government in particular, will ensure that the socioeconomic disadvantage of these poorest women does not push them into further poverty following the addition of another child that they cannot afford to properly look after.

The survey is the third of its kind conducted in Lagos state, and was led by the Centre for Research, Evaluation Resources and Development (CRERD) and Bayero University Kano (BUK).