Back in March, after we launched our documentary about fertility awareness methods (FAM), I got an SOS call from Dr. Nkechi Asogwa, Director of Doctors Health Initiative (DHI). DHI is a Lagos-based nonprofit organization created by a group of local physicians. She shared how “government clinics automatically give hormonal contraceptives to any woman of child bearing age once she has had a baby. They make it practically impossible to use anything but the hormonal contraceptives, which are free.” Six month later, thanks to the help of generous donors from this online community, we are proud to report that 8 teachers are going to be trained to teach Fertility Awareness-Based Methods in Lagos. DHI is also organizing film screenings of our documentary like in the picture below where it was shown to 300 people last week. Here is why this is so important.
Why contraception is terrible health care for Africa
We described in a previous post how contraceptives were pushed on women in Nigeria. Back in 2014, Human Life International was already reporting what they witnessed in Uganda about the way contraceptives were distributed in that country:
“Women, often without their husband’s knowledge, go to an information session at a clinic of some kind—often a government clinic (although ‘government’ here is a relative term since the non-governmental organizations who provide these drugs are so intertwined with the government). The women are told that the best way to get out of poverty is to do what we do in the West—to stop having kids, or to ‘space pregnancies.’ They are pressured, sometimes very strongly: We spoke to four women who said they were locked in a room until they ‘chose’ a method, and the method they were forced to choose was an IUD. In most of the other cases, the victims were not told about possible serious side effects before being given the contraceptive method.”
The Population Research Institute just released a video and a well-documented article explaining the tragic way HIV AIDS is being spread further by the reckless distribution of Depo-Provera to African women.
Numerous studies and reports are increasingly showing the dangerous side-effects and health risks of hormonal birth control methods. In the West, these risks are somewhat mitigated because a woman can have an easy access to healthcare professionals to change her prescription or respond to a dangerous side-effect. In Nigeria and other African countries, clinics and hospitals in large cities are not providing any health education or verification of the patient’s health status. Non-professionals bring contraceptives to villages with no medical support. What happens to a woman in the country who experiences irregular bleeding, depression, blood clots and other serious consequences of these drugs?
A plan to double the use of contraceptives in four years
The population control campaign in Africa is described in Family Planning 2020, an international plan funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but also by Bayer Health Care and Merck, and implemented with the support of large NGOs like Marie Stopes International, Planned Parenthood and USAID.
The specific plan for Nigeria aims at increasing the rate of contraception use from 15% in 2014 to 36% by 2018. It’s an atomic bomb launched on women, the family and the culture in Nigeria. The plan calls for an aggressive “demand generation effort,” which includes targeting “identified high-priority segments (e.g., adolescents/young people, unmarried women).” The plan includes supplying long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) for free to the population in a systematic fashion through the public and private health network[i]. The budget is $600 million over four years.
What can we do to help?
While there is plenty to do in America and other Western countries to change the way women’s reproductive health is being driven by contraception, we must keep in our minds and hearts the cause of Africa. We must speak up against the scandal of Depo Provera. We must also help these countries learn about the healthy alternatives for family planning provided by fertility awareness methods.
Organizations like Doctor Health Initiative or Maternal Life International, another nonprofit working with Africa for the past 30 years, report a huge need for training educators in these countries. Women and couples are welcoming these methods once they know about them.
That’s why we launched an appeal to our supporters to raise funds to raise awareness and train NFP teachers in Lagos. The FAM providers listed below have been involved in these countries, some of them for many years and are working, with very limited means, to combat the contraceptive onslaught. I encourage our readers to show support for their work in Africa as well.
“There is an opportunity for preserving in Africa something we’ve lost in the U.S. and Europe,” said Dr. George Mulcaire-Jones, the founder of Maternal Life International, in an interview I had with him in July. “When we look back and try to understand the effects of contraception, it’s had a tremendous negative effect on our culture. Let’s help Africa not make the same mistakes. Let’s give them the beautiful option of NFP and maybe it will preserve a culture of life that has slipped away from us.”
FAM providers working in Africa:
When this article refers to fertility awareness methods (FAM), or natural family planning (NFP), we are referring to Fertility Awareness-Based Methods, evidence-based methods of cycle charting which can be used as effective forms of natural birth control when learned by a certified instructor.