By Ndidi Chukwu
Key reproductive health and family planning stakeholders in Nigeria, on Monday urged Nigeria’s president elect General Muhammadu Buhari, to consider the issue of reproductive health and family planning a priority. The group also urged the president elect to sustain and improve on priority health intervention programmes already in place if his administration must improve the nations maternal health care.
“This is an opportunity for development if Nigeria plans better, harnesses the potentials of her dynamic urban environment through cost-effective interventions and accelerates investment in Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Women Empowerment. These are critical to improving and promoting healthy living among the Nigerian poor” said Wale Adeleye, national coordinator, Civil Society for Family planing in Nigeria (CiSFP)
Adeleye said the incoming government should ensure access to reproductive Health and Family Planning services and commodities to adolescents, youths and women of reproductive age.
“Government must implement the policy of free female planning services without discrimination. This should include also long-acting reversible contraceptives, including postpartum contraceptives, and underutilized commodities such as Implants, Emergency Contraceptives, Progesterone Contraceptive Vaginal Ring and Female Condoms. Government should also identify and fund national NGOs that have excellence track record over the years in SRH including family Planning” he further said.
Accelerating Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for Financing Reproductive Health and Family Planning was also a topical issue at the press conference organized in Abuja by the group of civil societies.
PPP, according to Moroph Baranti speaking for Evidence for Action in Nigeria will contribute towards achieving the National strategic development goals of increased Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) and reducing the unacceptable Unmet Needs and Maternal Deaths in Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government of Nigeria should review the laws and tariffs that limit the importation of these commodities and also consider use of bridge financing for donor funded procurement of critical health commodities as it could allow ‘timely access to funds to ensure best procurement and delivery practices.
The president elect was also urged to implement the FP2020 Commitments and Establish a Permanent Budget Line for Reproductive Health and Family Planning.
“The Federal Government had pledged at the London Summit in 2010 to provide annually a total of $11.35 million for procurement of family planning commodities. These commitments have not been fully realized as promised. Also the government through the Federal Ministry of Health developed a comprehensive and costed blueprint for National Family Planning Scale Up (2014 – 2018) that will require over $600 million to implement and yet no financial allocation to implement this plan. Similarly, states and LGAs should be encouraged to create budget lines, adequately fund and invest in quality family planning and reproductive health services” said Esther Agbarakwe, for Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH)
Existing initiatives seek for sustainability according to the group, is the Midwife Service Scheme, the SURE-P Conditional Cash Transfer, implementation of the work plan for the UN Commission for Life-Saving Commodities and Saving one Million lives Initiative which Nigeria as a co-chair is expected internationally to demonstrate leadership in achieving the priorities and also the implementation of the National Health Act. Also included in the call are newly elected and returning Governors and National Assembly members who were urged to ensure that every Nigerian benefits from the rights to quality health care.
The groups are as follows;
- Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH)
- Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI)
- Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) Advocacy working Group
- Civil Society for Family Planning in Nigeria (CiSFP)
- Pathfinder International
- Evidence for Action (E4A)
- International Pregnancy Advisory Services (Ipas) Nigeria
- Bayer HealthCare
- Cupid Limited
- Population Council International
- Champions for Change (C4C)
- International Consortium on Emergency Contraceptives (ICEC)
The civil societies who held the press conference expressed optimism that the priorities recommended to Government of Nigeria will reduce maternal and child mortality, improve, access and affordability of RH/FP services in Nigeria and ultimately lead to economic development