How Nigeria can use family planning to reduce maternal, child mortality – Official

Despite some gains, Nigeria still has a long way to go in the implementation of family planning measures, a health official said on Thursday.

Kayode Afolabi, Director/Head-RH, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), speaking at a one-day health dialogue held in Abuja, said in spite Nigeria’s commitment and investment, the country still has a long way to go in achieving a commendable level of FP implementation.

The dialogue was organised by development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) in collaboration with the health ministry and other civil society organisations.

Mr Afolabi, who also represented the minister of health, Isaac Adewole, at the event said the government is keen on improving FP performance because it is a very important tool for reducing maternal and child mortality.

He said the current rate of live birth in Nigeria is 560 per 1,000 birth.

Mr Afolabi said this is not too good because the country can do better “and FP can be used to reduce this and reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies in the country”.

In his presentation, Mr Afolabi said though funding for FP in Nigeria is very low and often augmented by international donors, the government would fulfill the commitment it made to the global agency.

He said FP is very necessary to save the lives of the women, allow them to live their lives to the fullest, and also take care of the family.

“We need to promote availability of new contraceptive model in line with the global trend. We are trying to review the roadmap we are using in FP policies. We are also happy that the media is here because we have over 300 PHCs in the country and most of the women are not accessing it.”

Mr Afolabi, who is also an obstetrician and gynecologist, said 25 percent of maternal mortality can be prevented by contraceptives.

Mr Afolabi, however, said there has been a gradual increase in the financing of FP in the country as government and stakeholders have decided to improve family planning investment.

He said the minister this year made a pledge of $4 million to FP and has promised that the government would pay it in bulk.

Mr Afolabi said the country has not been fulfilling most of its pledges adding that it recently pledged $3 million for the basket funding for FP yearly for four years.

“This was meant to total to $12 million. Unfortunately, the fund released was only $7 million in total,” he said.

He said Nigeria would not be able to pay the backlog in the funding because the source of money generation has dried up, adding that the source then was the excess crude oil fund.

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“Unfortunately, that era is over,” he said.

Mr Afolabi said the USAID has been consistent in “mopping up the gaps in FP funding in Nigeria”.

He also said the government is now looking inwards to raise money to sustain the FP funds.

According to him, although the budgetary allocation to health is also very low (only 4 percent of the whole budget) the “allocation to FP is increasing and this shows commitment on the path of the government”.

He said there are also efforts to improve domestic funding to FP and this has started with advocacy visit to the budgetary office, “and this is why there has been an increase”.

Another participant from Lagos State, Oreoluwa Fennih, in her remarks said the state has been doing a lot of advocacy in FP implementation.

She said most of the free FP injectibles and consumables used in the states are in the public primary health care centres.

She, however, said the state has not been able to implement free consumables in private hospitals.

Another Lagos State representative, Okanlawon Idowu, called for the need to work with the private sector.

The Taraba State representative, Titi Saleh, said there is need for more training for personnel because “some of our staff are retired and some do not know about FP”.

“We have new partners in the states but we need more partners to help us in our state so that we can retrain our staff and so that the providers can be able to service the rural areas.”

Over the years FP programmes and purchasing of consumables for the country have been sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, USAID and other international donors.

Nigeria only recently started contributing to the FP basket fund into which development partners contribute for the procurement of FP commodities.


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