Experts task health CSOs to advocate more on family planning

Representatives from the 5 PAS states (Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger and Taraba)
Representatives from the 5 PAS states (Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger and Taraba)

Experts at a one day health dialogue have called on civil society organisations to increase advocacy on family planning in Nigeria in order to achieve the desired goal.

The dialogue, held in Abuja on Thursday, was organised by development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and other civil society organisations.

In his presentation, one of the panelists, Adedeji Aderibigbe, from the University of Ilorin, said the level of advocacy on Family Planning (FP) in Nigeria is very low.

Mr Aderibigbe, who made a presentation on advocacy inclusion in Nigerian family planning policy document, said he noticed that FP advocacy is lacking in some of the documents he reviewed.

“I realised that some of the documents reviewed in spite of having lines on family planning issues, have no mention of FP advocacy,” he said.

Mr Aderibigbe said increased advocacy on FP will play a major role in the eventual acceptance of policies that are developed.

He said policy documents that have direct or indirect bearing on FP issues in Nigeria were used for the meta analysis.

He noted that all the ones which had no advocacy policies were national service documents.

He said most of the documents analysed were focused at national level and none was domesticated in states.

Despite various efforts made to ensure FP services are cheap and available in the country, the rate of acceptance is still very low as many sexually active women are reluctant to embrace contraceptives.

The benefits of family planning are obvious. It allows women to space child birth and replenish vital nutrients lost during the process.

It also allows the organs of mothers to return to normal.

In spite of these obvious merits, 87 per cent of women in Nigeria or their partners do not use modern or traditional contraceptives.

Statistics from the 2016/17 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) indicate that only 11 per cent of women of ages 15 to 49, currently married or in a union, use the method in the country.

In his presentation, Okey Akpala, one of the panelists said most of the Family Planning policies are hinged at expanding, assessing and slowing down population.

He said there is a need for more advocacy in this area in order to forestall impending population explosion, poverty rate increment and maternal and child mortality rate in the country.

Mr Akpala also said that it is almost impossible to have free FP services in the country.

He said though it is usually free in the public sector, it is paid for in the private sector.

Mr Akpala stated that there is a need to re-evaluate the policy because most women access health care in the private sector.

In her presentation, the Director of programmes, Association for Reproductive Family Health (ARFH), Zainab Moukarim, advised CSOs to reduce advocacy on policy implementation but focus more on talking about training for the staff.

This, she said, is very important, as Nigeria will have something to fall back on when the donors take away their money.

“The PHC under one roof should focus on capacity building for the workers especially the Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW).

“Government at all level should institute strong orientation for all health workers,” she said.

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