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ABUJA, Nigeria October 12, 2018 –The need to improve service delivery, availability and access to Family Planning (FP), for the majority of women across Nigeria, has once again been reiterated by public sector officials, Academics and Civil Society representatives working in the area of reproductive health and family planning in Nigeria.
This was the consensus at a One-day Leadership Training for Family Planning Focal Persons organised on October 12, 2018, by the Development Research and Projects Center (dRPC), under the PACFAH@Scale program with the aim of strengthening the leadership skills and competencies of participants so that they could champion FP issues and needs within the state system.
Speaking at the event, Greg Izuwa, Deputy Director, Reproductive Division, Federal Ministry of Health noted that scores of Nigerian women of reproductive age clamour for access to FP services but the program’s capacity in the country is highly inadequate to meet their needs, therefore it is imperative for everyone concerned to work together with the government so that these challenges can be mitigated.
“The Nigerian Government has, through the Federal Ministry of Health put in place a policy of free family planning information, services and commodities to family planning clients at public health facilities across the country,” said Mr Izuwa. This will help to address inaccessibility owing to ignorance and poverty mostly experienced by underprivileged Nigerian women. He added that select private health facilities are equally being supported with government’s free commodities to enable them to provide family planning services at very subsidized fees to willing clients.
“There are no systematic studies to determine the policy advocacy inclusions and exclusions in the family planning documents that abound in the public health space in Nigeria,” said Dr Aderibigbe Adedeji, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Ilorin. He surmised that in order to achieve 27% modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), there needs to be a thorough interrogation of existing policies in order to map how they can better address the needs of the people.
According to Joyce Ahmadu, a gender expert who spoke at the event, “there is need to propose policy actions to strengthen gender integration in future policy development processes” She identified that due to the gender specificity of family planning, government should explore gender-focused research and analysis of norms that affect health-seeking behaviours and health outcomes of women/girls and men/boys in order to arrive at effective interventions targeted at the specific issues. She said this is in response to the identification of gender gaps which came up during an assessment of policies and documents on child and family health in Nigeria.
She, therefore, recommended that policymakers should develop and include gender-sensitive results and indicators to guide the monitoring and evaluation of gender equality, disaggregate gender data at all levels and budget line for gender-related interventions as well as engage stakeholder from the government, CSO and INGOs with gender expertise in the policy development process.
NNNGO-PAS’s Program Officer, Ayo Adebusoye, one of the participants noted: “The conference helped to shape the thoughts and actions of CSO representatives who participated such that we now understand how best to leverage on our individual strengths while working together as a team in order to achieve optimal results”. He concluded that learning to work in synergy with other FP champions within the state and across the country is key to achieving family planning targets.