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Should Nigeria restrict or at least regulate assisted reproduction? : Politics : Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum
Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum
Should Nigeria restrict or at least regulate assisted reproduction?
Should Nigeria restrict or at least regulate assisted reproduction?
April 27, 2018, 09:06:45 AM
It may be time to regulate -if not outright ban- certain types of assisted reproduction in Nigeria because the population of the country is growing too fast. The latest information from the Nigerian population commission states that the country’s population is now 198 million. This should be viewed as an opportunity for a debate around some of the contributing factors to this massive surge.
The figure itself would not be concerning had there been competent governmental, institutional and policy frameworks to exploit its positive possibilities. But, even a more efficient system would likely struggle with rapid population increases like we’ve recently had in Nigeria. The population is growing at more than double the rate of GDP growth. It is clearly unsustainable.
Nigerian women (and men) are some of the most fertile human beings on this planet. It is a demographic advantage, given that some countries in northern hemisphere are struggling to replace ageing populations. Nigeria is among the countries with the highest percentage of youth population in the world. Population has known benefits as well as challenges. The first task is to keep the growth within reason and within control to insure sustainable human capital development and harmonious socioeconomic co-existence. Some of the immediate noticeable consequence of runaway population increases has been the conflict between the farmers and herdsmen in Nigeria. The pressure on land is increasing, and this should worry policy makers.
Prior to the advent of assisted reproduction, particularly in-vitro fertilization (IVF), there was a form of arithmetic progression (linear ) relationship between the birth and death rates. Controlling for economic growth and improved access to better food and healthcare, natural birth rates nearly always stayed close -somewhat -to natural death rates. At least in the case of Nigeria, the balance has been fairly maintained for decades which is why the population only doubled in a quarter of a century between 1960 and 1990 from 45 million to 88 million. However Nigeria’s population doubled again in less than 20 years to 160 million. Today the population is projected to double again in under 30 years, hitting 399 million by 2050. That is an exponential growth relative to the death rates.
And this in our relatively small landmass?
Clearly something else is contributing to this type of surge.
Even population figures obey Newton’s first law of motion which states that an object remains in a state of rest, or of uniform motion, unless a force acts on it. In terms of population, the growth rate is usually stable (i.e. in a state of rest or uniform motion) until something causes a rapid change. Such rapid changes in population -in cases of sharp decreases – can be caused by war or epidemics which leads to massive loss of life. Massive increases in fertility as we are witnessing in Nigeria -which contributes to population surge- may be bolstered by unregulated assisted reproduction.
Normally, an African would be nuanced while discussing issues that border on (in)fertility. It may even seem mean-spirited to discuss, criticize or otherwise frown at some of what is going on because of the emotive nature of the problem that assisted reproduction is solving. However it would be irresponsible not to at least discuss the abuses that go on as it were in the reproductive industry today.
The problem can be traced to the practices that totally leapfrog natural paths of births, leading to multiple pregnancies and reproduction where hitherto there were singular births.
Why, for example, would a woman who could not conceive naturally -even once before- now want to have twins, triplets and even quadruplets as is happening these days in Nigeria?
In one instance, a particular woman had fifteen embryos frozen and preserved for her. So far she has successfully delivered 5 children, but is still insisting on getting implanted with the rest of the embryos. She argues that some of the implantation abort, but so far she already has 5 healthy children and still wants more. To achieve this feat, she has been pregnant every year for the past 6 -7 years, giving birth nearly every year. By the time she’s done she may produce at least 8 children. Is that what Nigeria needs at this stage of her socioeconomic development? Even women without fertility issues tend to stop at around 4 children, on average; but those with fertility problems want to over-produce children to sate their desire for babies -to somehow feel more woman than the rest?
Stories similar to hers is the new normal today in Nigeria. Grandmothers and even mothers in-law are coming our of childbirth retirement to carry babies for their relations. Hardly would any woman accept her infertility these days in Nigeria, but that is not the problem as it is only fair that every woman should have a child of her own. The problems starts when these woman want to produce more children than their naturally fertile counterparts; a form of mental flux similar to what happens when a poor person walks into a buffet for the very first time.
This type of flux is caused by lack of proper psycho-social support, and the absence of legal, moral and policy guidelines. If this support and policy gap continues we will soon start seeing even fertile women (some say it is already happening) choosing multiple births through assisted reproduction than following the natural route of single births. Who would prefer several single births when one can have one multiple birth? Already a lot of women opt for Cesarian operations than go through the pains of labour and natural delivery. The easier it gets to produce a baby, the more likelihood that women would choose to have more children even for the wrong reasons.
Every woman who wants a child should have a child even if with assisted reproduction. However, we should ensure that it mirrors natural demographic paths, else we breed ourselves into unsustainable existence.
The policy uncertainty being exploited by the women could be temporarily alleviated through psycho-social and spiritual counselling, rather than being allowed to “breed away” their problems.
While breeding away their problems, they create huge socioeconomic problems for all Nigerians.
It is time that the federal government through relevant ministries, departments, and agencies drew up policy and regulatory frameworks to control assisted reproduction in Nigeria.
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