Babatunde Osotimehin Legacy Forum: Health experts discuss Family Planning in Nigeria (Live Updates)

Subomi Balogun hall where the event will hold.
Subomi Balogun hall where the event will hold.

The maiden edition of the ‘Babatunde Osotimehin Legacy Forum’ is holding today in honour of late Babatunde Osotimehin, a former Nigerian health minister and one of the country’s biggest human export in the global health sector.

Family, friends, health experts and associates of the late health advocate are gathering in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, to discuss how to expand his works and advocacies which were centred on reproductive health.

Mr Osotimehin was renowned for advocating for women’s reproductive health and reproductive rights, particularly within the context of the HIV epidemic.

He was pivotal in driving the Family Planning (FP) 2020 agenda – a commitment to achieve modern contraceptive prevalence for all women by 2020.

As executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Mr Osotimehin, a professor of clinical pathology, actively advocated three major goals: zero preventable maternal deaths, zero unmet demand for family planning and the elimination of harmful practices against women and girls.

Themed: “Meeting Whither Family Planning in Nigeria? 2020 Goal”, the event is organised by the Academy for Health Development (AHEAD) under the PACFaH@Scale project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the organisers, the event will focus on advocating for more investment and inclusion in family planning strategies in the country.

Adesegun Fatusi, Co-founder of AHEAD, is expected to give an opening remark by 9: 15 a.m.

Organisers said this would now become an annual event where experts converge to discuss reproductive health services in honour of the late professor.

Stay on this page as PREMIUM TIMES will brings you live coverage of today’s activities.



The theme of the event is ‘Family Planning 2020 Goal: Whither Nigeria?’

The hashtag for the event us #PHC4UHC


It is a cozy weather out here at the Subomi Balogun conference centre inside the University of Ibadan, venue of the first Edition of Babatunde Osotimehin legacy Forum.

Guests are converging at the centre tucked in the capital of Oyo State.

9:15 am – Registration of participants ongoing.

9:20 am – Introduction of speakers to the high table.


Adesegun Fatusi, Co-founder, AHEAD takes the stage to give his opening remark. He starts praising Olufunke, wife of late Babatunde Osotimehin. He described Mrs Osotimehin as a woman who believes in the dreams and goals of her late husband.

Mr Fatusi says the day’s event will be used as an opportunity to remember and relive the works of late Babtunde as well as advocate for the improvement of reproductive health services in Nigeria.

He explains how the idea for the legacy forum was birthed. Mr Fatusi, a professor lists the funders and supporters of the forum.

PACFAH@scale; DRPC and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among the supporters of the program.

“This is a moment that has historic dimension in driving Nigeria forward in the area of reproductive health”, the professor notes, ending his remark to a thunderous rounds of applause.

Next on the agenda is the opening remark by the chairman of the occasion, Oladusi Ojengbede.


9:45 a.m. – Opening remark by the chairman of the occasion, Oladusi Ojengbede.

Mr Ojengbede, a professor, describes Mr Osotimehin’s contributions in the health sector, particular on reproductive health services.

He thanks organisers for birthing the idea of the legacy forum, describing the event as a landmark for advocating for the progress of reproductive health in Nigeria.

Olafunke, the wife of Babatunde Osotimehin says this programme gave comfort to the family of the late professor. She gives a brief special remark on behalf of the family.

She describes her late husband as a father, financier, protector, shield and a joker.

Mrs Olafunke said the day’s event is bound to drive the country’s health sector.

Explaining the need for awareness on family planning, she said there is need for information on reproductive health especially for parents and girls at early age.

She says creating awareness on reproductive health would go a long in abdicating the rising trend of child molestation in the country.

“When girls are aware of their reproductive health at a tender age, they will be able to stand up against their abuse.”

Mrs Olafunke urged parents start early in teaching their children about their reproductive health.

In his special remark, Eghosa Osaghae, chair Board of Trustee, DRPC, describes how late Mr Osotimehin is remembered globally.

“We join forces with everybody that stands with the dream of Osotimehin to remember him today”, he says.


Kayode Afolabi, a representative of the health ministry, in a goodwill message commended organisers of the forum.

He said the federal government will collaborative with AHEAD, the organisers of the programme in such progressive initiative.

He said the ministry of health is supporting sexual and reproductive health for all women and men in the country. He said the ministry focuses on maternal and new born survival.

Mr Afolabi hopes guest attendees and Nigerians will see the event as a mark of respect for the late health advocate.


Kayode Afolabi, a representative of the health ministry, in a goodwill message commended organisers of the forum.

He said the federal government will collaborative with AHEAD, the organisers of the programme in such progressive initiative.

He said the ministry of health is supporting sexual and reproductive health for all women and men in the country. He said the ministry focuses on maternal and new born survival.

Mr Afolabi hopes guest attendees and Nigerians will see the event as a mark of respect for the late health advocate.


Emmanuel Otorin takes the stage to deliver the event’s annual lecture. He takes congregants through memory lane on life and works of late Mr Osotimehin.

He called for a minute silence in respect of the late Icon. He gives account of his personal interactions with Mr Osotimehin.

“Until every girl, every woman, everybody wherever they maybe can access reproductive health services, especially family planning, the work is not done,” he quotes the deceased as saying.

At the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012, those were the words of late Babatunde Osotimehin which encapsulates what he lived and died for.

The summit was a forum of network of partners to bring local actions and solutions for, especially populations left behind in family planning – youths, women and girls.

His contributions at the summit were pivotal in driving the Family Planning (FP) 2020 agenda – a commitment to achieve modern contraceptive prevalence for all women by 2020.

Unfortunately, Mr Osotimehin did not live long enough to see this to fruition.

He died in New York on 4th June, 2017, barely a month before Nigeria among other countries – in that year’s summit – pledged to achieve a modern contraceptive rate of 27 per cent among all women by 2020, by increasing its annual allocation for contraception.


Mr Otolorin said rapid population growth is pushing the country into extreme poverty, hence giving rise to the tension and spread of insecurity the country is facing.


The professor speaks on Nigeria’s commitment for Family Planning 2020.
Family Planning (FP) 2020 Commitment

Nigeria, in 2017 pledged to achieve a modern contraceptive rate of 27 per cent among all women by 2020, by providing women access to family planning services and commodities.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the country committed to increasing its annual allocation for contraceptives from $3 million (committed from 2011 to 2014) to $4 million while ensuring total disbursement of $56 million to the states through participation in the Global Financing Facility and international development assistance loans.

Progress has been made. According to Family Planning 2020 advocates, modern methods of contraception have prevented over 2 million unintended pregnancies and 735,000 unsafe abortions between July 2017 and 2018.

In spite of this progress, only 13.3 per cent of women aged 15-49 are using modern contraception in Nigeria meaning that one-in-four married women aged 15-49 have unmet need for modern contraception.

At the dawn of 2019 which is barely six months to reaching the target FP2020, indicators show that Nigeria currently has only 13. 9 per cent Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) for all women.

FP which has been identified as a watershed for the countries burgeoning population is frustrated by among other issues, poor funding.

In his lecture, Mr Otolorin says Nigeria has only 12 percent coverage of widespread use of contraception.

“It will only take a miracle for the country to reach the target of achieving 27 per cent coverage of contraceptive use in 2020.”

Mr Otorolin lamented the poor budgetary allocation by the Nigerian government to family planning, noting that the country heavily depends on donor funding for its FP interventions.

He listed some of the interventions and programmes of the government to improve access to Family Planning services, explaining how these plans have been bedeviled by poor management and corruption.

In reviewing progress made, he said the national family planning initiative has been adopted by most states in the country.

In conclusion, the professor proposes that the government adopts a ‘Human centre design’ which means interacting with human end users in asking them questions around what will make them change their mindset and accept contraception.

He urged the Nigerian government to move from policies to action.

He ends his lecture to a standing ovation and rounds of applause.


11:42 a.m – Mr Otolorin receives the Osotimehin Award after his lecture.


Going into his lecture proper, Mr Otolorin uses projections to illustrate how Nigeria’s burgeoning population growth is affecting the country’s economic progress.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh globally.

The National Population Commission estimates the country’s population at 198 million, a number expected to double in less than 25 years if Nigerian women continue to reproduce at the current rate.

The United Nations’ publication, World Population Prospects, predicts Nigeria is on course to become the third most populous country in the world by 2050.

Mr Otolorin, a professor, described as a crisis, the fact that Nigeria’s population is growing twice faster than the country’s economic growth rate.

He said a country that cannot feed itself is not a progressive nation, noting Nigeria can no longer provide enough food for its teeming population.

“By 2050, if our population keeps growing at this rate, we will need about 11 million metric tonnes of rice to feed the nation.”

He said widespread use of contraception is the only way Nigeria can address the escalating population growth which is threatening the foundation of the country.

“We have unmet needs for family planning in Nigeria. Over the past two decades, nothing has changed”, he says.

He used the demographics of Thailand to demonstrate how Nigeria can drive family planning through the widespread use of contraception.

“If we do not do anything about our poor usage of contraception, our population is bound to triple.”

Mr Otolorin has provided Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS technical assistance to developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Asia (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) as well as local, state and federal agencies in Nigeria.

He said the high illiteracy level in the country contributes immensely for poor usage of contraception in Nigeria.
“Some people still think their wealth depends on the number of children they have but that is not so.”

He further listed poverty, religion and myths as some of the reasons why people reject contraception in Nigeria.

The role of men is important because women will likely adhere more when men are supportive.

He said the wide use of contraception will significantly help in reducing child and mother deaths, the spread of HIV as well as other reproductive health challenges.

The professor linked Nigeria’s rate of unemployment to the country’s huge population.

He said the prevailing joblessness in the country is driving the security challenges the country is facing.

Mr Otolorin said the situation is also affecting water supply, school enrolment and health care delivery.


11: 45 A.M. – Launch of commemorative edition of Professor Osotimehin’s articles.

Oluwabunmi Olaopa, a professor, gives a brief overview of the articles, explaining how they were collected.

11: 50 A.M. – Launch of the Osotimehin’s commemorative journal by the high table.


1: 10 P.M – CSOs and agencies working on family planning programmes take turns to share experiences and give solutions to how Nigeria can drive FP progress.

Mr Ojengbede, the chairman of the occasion, in his closing remark, said the event has become an annual programme where issues around reproductive health services will be discussed.

Other partners also gave vote of thanks.

1:25 p.m – The event ends with the recitation of the second stanza of the national anthem.





 

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