Nigerian women and girls will soon be able to access free family planning services as policymakers, donors and advocates have committed about $2.5 billion in funding for developing countries from 2017 to 2020.
The pledges were made in London, UK on Tuesday at the Family Planning 2020 summit tagged, Family Planning 2017. The event was hosted by the UK in partnership with the UN Population Fund, UNFPA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The programme brought together people from around the world to discuss how to remove the barriers to family planning services in developing countries.
It also served as a platform to advocate improvement in family planning initiatives in countries with low family planning policies in addition to encouraging women to lead better lives and also determine whether to get pregnant or not.
Though most of the pledges were from Asian and African countries, it is through the support of the UK government that Nigerian women will soon be having access to free family planning.
The UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who gave the keynote address alongside Natalia Kanem, Acting head, UNFPA and Melinda Gates said the UK Government would boost and extend its annual support for family planning around the world until 2022.
Ms. Patel said UK will also focus its effort on eliminating the stigma, cost and access issues associated with family planning in developing countries by “supporting innovative technology, helping fix issues in the supply chains so that the contraceptives can reach the targeted people especially in emergency settings.”
“The UK will support more women who have no choice of contraceptives. We will support the roll out and scaling of the first new self-injectables contraceptive- Sayana Press to be available for more women in countries around the world. We will also through the World Bank encourage governments in developing countries to fund their own family planning systems which will allow women who cannot afford the contraceptives get it free of charge, and Nigeria will be a beneficiary,” she said.
Ms. Patel added that UK will also be demanding that its humanitarian partners focus more on women living in emergency settings, as they plan to improve access to family planning services for refugees as well.
She, however, noted that social taboos are some of the barriers facing women who want family planning and they intend to support the new ‘SRHR, Sexual and Reproductive Health Right Connect’ programme to address the stigma.
The Acting head, UNFPA, Natalia Kanem, said policymakers in their attempt to eliminate poverty and uphold human rights and dignity cannot ignore an essential tool for sustainable development, which is voluntary family planning.
Ms. Kanem said family planning saves lives and enables couples to choose whether and when to have children.
“It preserves women and girl health and empowers them to pursue education and work. Family planning enriches communities and strengthens economies. Unfortunately, an estimated 214 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for modern contraceptives and we need to urgently do something about it,’’ she said.
The Nigerian Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the Nigerian government is committed to encouraging more women and girls to use modern contraceptives as a means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and abortion.
Mr. Adewole said the federal government, as part of its commitment signed an MoU with UNFPA for an increase in its annual funding to the ‘basket fund’ and will also ensure the distribution of $56 million to the states through other loans at the Global Financing Facility,GFF.
Mr. Adewole said the government was committed to improving the use of modern contraceptives in the country “because it has become very critical for Nigeria to take care of its population before it becomes a demographic disaster for the nation.”
Mr. Adewole said if care was not taken, Nigeria would have a population of over 400 million, becoming the third largest in the world with its attendant challenges.
The minister said the Nigerian government with the assistance of USAID and Global Fund will open two new warehouses, one in Abuja, the other in Lagos, expected to link up seven additional warehouses across the country.