Pathfinder International has urged Federal Government to decentralise her policies on implementation of Family Planning (FP) measures, considering the country’s cultural and religious diversity.
Pathfinder International, which has “sexual and reproductive health without fear or boundary” as its motto, is a global non-profit organisation that focuses on reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and maternal health.
Its Country Director, Dr. Amina Dorayi, made the call during a Media Roundtable in Abuja on Saturday, in preparation for the forthcoming 6th Nigeria Family Planning Conference scheduled for Dec. 7 to Dec. 11.
The theme of the conference is “Post 2020Agenda and Safeguarding Investment in Emergencies: Adaptation, Innovation, Resilience.”
Dorayi, who noted that most FP policies in the country do not have clear Monitoring and Evaluation plans, added that there were inadequate guidelines or funding to support policy implementation, as the process was lengthy and cost-intensive.
She recalled that the Federal Government, in collaboration with partners, pledged to achieve a Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) of 27 per cent among women by 2020, relying on policies such as the National Strategic Health Development Plan (NSHDP) and the National Family Planning Blueprint.
Other policies the government relied on to achieve the FP2020 were the National Task Shifting and Task Sharing Policy (TSTS), the National Policy on Health and Development of Adolescents and Young People, Strategic Plan for DMPA-SC Introduction and Scale-Up, as well as the National Private Sector Engagement Plan.
The country representative said that championing Family Planning policies at the sub-national levels would drive down costs of their formulation and fill the capacity gaps in their successful implementation across the country.
She added that the National Health Policies, Strategies and Plans play an essential role in defining a country’s vision, policy directions and strategies toward ensuring the health of its population.
She, however, said that “in order to prepare for, manage and learn from shocks and other emerging global and national threats; health policies need to be fully implemented. The policies are, however, at different stages of implementation.”
According to her, the national policies are collectively aimed at prioritising funding for Family Planning, increase demand for and access to services to all, including rural communities, and quality services in public and private health facilities.
The policies would also help in increasing national and state mCPR, reduce maternal and child mortality and ensure overall health and economic benefits.
Dorayi, therefore, advised full implementation of the policies to “build back better” in the aftermath of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country, stressing the need for holistic inclusion of all actors, including subnational stakeholders and local CSOs in the implementation of policies.
Dorayi also said that the role of the media in advocating for full implementation of relevant policies cannot be overemphasised.
Dr. Talemoh Dah, Senior Technical Adviser, Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON-PAS) also challenged the media to ensure that funds allocated to family planning services were released and programmes fully implemented.
In his presentation on “Family Planning Financing”, he identified funding and policy as major factors affecting FP services in the country.
He said “there is the need to also pursue a multichannel engagement with key government stakeholders, especially the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Federal Ministry of Finance as well as all levels of government to prioritise FP issues.
“All partners involved should share comparative advantages and strong relationships to advocacy.” The SOGON technical adviser noted that the Federal Government updated its commitment at the FP Summit in London on July 11, 2017 with the target of reaching 27 per cent maternal Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR).
According to him, the Federal Ministry of Health with the approval from the Federal Executive Council renewed the MoU with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to ensure provision of four million U.S. dollars annually from 2017 to 2020 for procurement of contraceptives for the public sector.
According to him, the commitment is an increase from the three million dollars committed from 2011 to 2014. “With the MoU, Nigeria was expected to contribute N1.2 billion annually to the basket fund over a period of four years from 2017 to 2020.
“However, as at November, there is a gap of N900 million not released in 2019 and the N1.2 billion also not released this year,” he added.
Dah, therefore, noted that the forthcoming biennial FP conference would provide the avenue for stakeholders to brainstorm, debate and exchange ideas, share experiences on the progress made so far.
He said the stakeholders would also identify emerging issues on FP/reproductive health, and chart the way forward toward improving the existing situation. (NAN)