The National Population Commission has called on religious leaders to start encouraging their members on the importance of child-spacing.
The commission urged them to encourage their followers to start using female contraceptives and condoms.
The NPC Chairman, Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), said this at an event held in commemoration of the 2017 World Population Day in Abuja on Monday.
He identified the culture of having large families as one of the biggest causes of poverty in Nigeria.
Duruiheoma said, “Having a large army of children who are not catered for because the mothers are denied access to family planning services is neither in the short nor long-term of any interest to any community.
‘Universal access to voluntary family planning can reduce maternal deaths by three and child deaths by as much as 20 per cent.”
According to him, “contraceptives provided by the United Nations Population Fund to Nigeria has the potential to prevent 11.7 million unintended pregnancies while almost 3.7 million unsafe abortions were prevented.
The NPC boss noted that the family planning services also helped to prevent 29,000 maternal deaths in Nigeria.
Duruiheoma stressed that use of condoms also helped in preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
He lamented that the resistance to family planning was deeply rooted in cultural prejudices and wrong interpretation of religious injunctions.