Dearth Of Family Planning Funds Is Killing Women, Children | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Dearth Of Family Planning Funds Is Killing Women, Children

family planning
Posted: Sep 21, 2016 at 7:50 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chioma Umeha.

The Rockview Hotel Royale, Abuja, was filled to capacity as health experts and stakeholders across the country who gathered to trace a roadmap for Family Planning (FP) financing in Nigeria.

Eager participants who provided first-hand information on why Nigeria is among countries with high index of maternal and under-five mortality rates, insisted that budget on FP is low.

“There is little or no budget to address the unnecessary deaths of women due to maternal reasons and that of under-five children.”

The above quote resonated throughout two-day national dialogue tagged: Achieving The goal of The Family Planning Blueprint: Stakeholders Dialogue on Funding and Regulatory Policies,” organised by Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), part of the Partnership for Advocacy for Child and Family Health (PACFaH).

The Senior Adviser, Human Population Nutrition (HPN) USAID, Dr. Mariam Olaide Jagun, while pledging support towards family planning in the country, explains that it is a tool for reducing maternal mortality rates.

Contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) or birth control of FP means the per cent of women of reproductive age who are using (or whose partner is using) a contraceptive method at a particular point in time, almost always reported for women married or in sexual union.

Generally, the measure includes all contraceptive methods (modern and traditional), but it may include modern methods only.

According to her, women should get pregnant by choice, not by chance as this reduces maternal mortality rates. Jagun believes that the country has all that it takes to reduce Maternal New-born Child deaths.

She confirms that there have been many commitments by government, but regrets that they are still unfulfilled.

Nigeria pledged to increase Contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) by two per cent every year to achieve 36 per cent by 2018 during the London Summit in 2012. According to her, the goal is to avert 31,000 maternal deaths and 1.5 million child deaths and save more than 700,000 mothers from injuries or permanent illness due to childbirth.

Jagun adds: “Nigeria also made commitment to take action to improve equity and access to family planning for women with lowest socio-economic status which includes, promoting policy formulation and actions that support maternal and child health at all levels, and partnering with the private sector, civil society, traditional and religious institutions and development partners.

“We should hold government responsible to fulfill their commitments,” she maintains.

She noted that N12 to N15 million is required to procure FP commodities and asked: How can we push this to achieve our goals. How can we make sure reach these women?

The USAID HPN Senior Adviser concludes that efforts must match action to produce results and reach women and men that need FP services.

Similarly, Dr. Farouk Jega, Country Representative, Pathfinder International, says that his organisation is interested in Nigeria fulfilling her commitments to FP as frontline advocates who are keen to achieve targets in sexual and reproductive health.

According to Jega, the dialogue is a good opportunity to discuss achievements, obstacles and discuss how to engage to achieve the country’s goals concerning FP.

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Executive Chairman, AAFP, Dr. Ejike Oji, explains, the gathering is a national stakeholder dialogue convened by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with AAFP/PACFaH project, Pathfinder International, Society for Family Health, the Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI 2) and the Palladium Group.

He adds, the   focus is on government policy document – ‘The Nigeria Family Planning Blueprint: Scale-up plan.’

Further clarifying, he says the policy document was one of the three reproductive health policy documents launched by the Supervising Minister of Health during the third Nigeria Family Planning Conference in November 2014 organized by AAFP in collaboration with the FMoH and others to scale-up FP as a means of reducing the country’s unacceptably high maternal mortality ratio.

He regrets: “Dearth of funding and appropriate regulatory policies among others were major FP impediments. According to him, this was the outcome of an assessment of the administrative and regulatory barriers that limit access to FP.

Oji insists, “There is need to examine the two important factors of funding and regulatory policies, and how they limit access to family planning.”

He further stresses, it is critical for stakeholders to become familiar with the process of government allocation and release of family planning funds to MDAs, projects/programmes and review of some selected budgets to determine how this was done.

Former Head of Service of the Federation, Ms. Amma Pepple, who was Chairman of the occasion while making her remarks, laments effects of socio-cultural practices which promote male preference in many societies in the country and stigmatise the girl-child. Pepple explains that this make many families without a male child to keep having children until when they have one.

She cites an example of a woman who had eight girls without a boy. The ninth child became a boy, so the couple decided to have the tenth child which happened to be a girl and were forced to stop having children.

She also says: “My mother was a victim of maternal mortality as she died from postpartum bleeding or postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Six days later, my little brother died of pneumonia.”

Declaring her commitment towards FP and Maternal New-born Child Health advocacy, she urges stakeholders and government not just to put policies in place, but to implement them.

She canvasses for the education of the Nigerian populace on the different methods of FP to use and stresses the need to reach the hard-to-reach areas at the rural settings, slums and riverine areas.

Pepple further stresses on the need for monitoring and evaluation, adding; “There is need to monitor whatever method that has been provided for the people.”

Commenting, Dayo Olaide, Deputy Director, Mac Arthur Foundation, says his organisation calls for the implementation of the National Health Act, saying it will help to address challenges in the health sector.

Olaide insists that until money is properly channeled to address the root of Nigeria’s health problems, deaths associated with maternal and new-born will persist.

He observes that the issue of maternal and new-born affects over 180 million people and insists that there is need to discuss how to do things differently to achieve results. He decries that the country is still dealing with FP which is 17th century issue in the 21st century.

Corroborating earlier views, the President, Market Women Association, Chief (Mrs.) Felicia Sani, while giving her goodwill message says deliberation on FP issues must include strategies to reach women at the rural level.

Commenting, Dr. Kayode Afolabi, FMOH, stresses, this is the time we need the dialogue in view of the 2018 FP target. He appeals to the leader of the market women to help in creating demand for FP commodities.

Similarly, Dr. Amina Shamaki, Permanent Secretary, FMOH, who was represented by Dr. Balanu Wapada, urges the media to support the advocacy efforts to reach FP targets come 2018.

He adds: “FP has been a potent strategy of reducing maternal motality and assist infertile couple to achieve pregnancy. Since the country eradicated Ebola, it will also reach the FP target.”

Nigeria launched the policy on “Free Contraceptive Commodities Distribution” under the family planning in 2012, he says, adding that to improve FP in the country and achieve 36 per cent contraceptive prevalence, there must be a sense of commitment.

He insists: “The national dialogue is crucial to achieving the FP goal.”