By Hassan Zagi
Dr. Kayode Afolabi is the Director of Reproductive Health at the Federal Ministry of Health. In this interview with Health Reporters, he explained the effort of the federal government in ensuring that FP services are available in all states of the federation. He also unveiled the processes involved in distributing FP commodities from the federal to the state levels and what the efforts of the FG to support the states. Excerpt:
Findings have indicated that the demands for Family Planning (FP) services have increased, what is the reason behind the sudden rise in demand?
Actually, a lot of efforts have gone into generating demands for the Family Planning (FP) commodities from the government at both the federal and state levels as well as our different implementing partners and that is in line with the implementation plan for the FP blue print.
So we have been documenting increased uptake of family planning services across the country. The government also has been ensuring that commodities are procured by the central pool through United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) which is the federal government procuring agent of FP commodities and such commodities are distributed to the states every four months.
All these enhanced the FP programme in the country and we also build capacity of service providers, we conduct efficient and behavioral change across the country and we work with gate keepers of different communities including religious and traditional leaders.
So, all these put together make information on family planning much more readily available than before and the services are now more accessible for Nigerians of reproductive age.
So, all these are what resulted in your observation that the demand for family planning services have increased.
It was discovered that the commodities are not readily available to those who need them in some states. What is the Federal Ministry of Health doing about that?
What states are you referring to?
Some Primary Health Centres were sampled in Nasarawa, Niger states and the FCT.
I have not received any official report that they have stock-out of commodities. Let me also inform you clearly so that you understand how it works. It is a shared responsibility for commodities to be available at service delivery points in PHCs.
The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health, makes the family planning commodities available at the states level right in the state store. It is expected that the states will ensure the distribution of these commodities from the state store to all their service delivery points at the PHCs.
If the challenge is that they do not have family planning commodities at the state level, then you could make inquiry on that from the federal level. If the problem is that they do not have the commodities at the PHCs, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that.
Once we are able to deliver family planning commodities free of charge to the state store, it is the responsibility of the state through the ministry of health at the state and the primary health care system at the state level to ensure the distribution of the commodities to the facilities.
Is there any form of support from the federal government to the state to ensure distribution from the state stores to the PHCs in the local government areas?
Yes, there is a lot of support from the federal government. This is because what we are looking is a situation where the commodities will be available at the federal level, state level and down to the facilities.
So, if the federal government could deliver to the state and the state have challenges, we realise that we need to provide some leadership and coordinate their last mile distribution effectively and one of such support is to conduct the last mile distribution with them.
Officers from the federal ministry will join service providers at the state level and from different local governments. That will check up their data and provide them with the commodities that have been supplied to the state.
We did that in 2011 and 2017. As we were doing so, we were preparing the state to take over that responsibility which is their own. We build their capacity and we advocate to the state for a budget line for family planning through which they could get funding for last line distribution activities. We also build their capacity on data gathering at the level of the facility to local government and the state because this is what will guide us to supply them and the whole country in general.
Another area where we provide support for them on their last line distribution is on capacity building for FP Coordinators. Each state has a FP Coordinator. We periodically build their capacity and conduct technical review on their activities so that whatever challenges they have, we proffer solution to them and the one that they cannot really handle on their own, we conduct advocacy with their state principal right from the state primary health agency down to the state ministry of health.
That area of support that we give them is what we are doing currently. We are developing a national guideline for all states in such a way that they will be able to identify their responsibility along the programme of national family planning scale up plan. They will also be able to support procurement of FP commodities by their own states in which some of the states have indicated interest.
So, we have provided guidelines for them through this national guideline that we are developing along with them through the support of UNFPA so that they will know the process of conducting forecast of what will be needed by states on an annual basis, the process of conducting procurement planning with UNFPA and the process of actual procurement and last mile distribution.
This national guideline is at its final stage now and will soon be lunched after it has been finalized and endorsed by the minister of health. We are providing layers support for states in such a way that FP planning programme in the whole country is effective and efficient.