BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja
The Federal Government has recorded a $29.05 million gap in the purchase of family planning commodities for health facilities in 2023, compared to $5.79 million shortfall in 2019.
This is even as the cost of procurement rose from $26.6 million in 2019 to $41.8 million in 2023 within the last five years.
To this end, the Federal Government has sought more investment in the procurement of contraceptives, given that establishing more health facilities and building the capacity of service providers attracts heavy financial burden.
Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate stated this on Monday during a High-level Private Sector Forum on Family Planning in Lagos.
The essence of the meeting was to brainstorm on the appropriate roadmap towards developing a long-term sustainability plan for greater impact on health and expanded family planning products and services in the country.
Pate, who was represented by the Director of Family Health in the Ministry, Dr. Stella Nwosu said that the forum was aimed at securing commitment for Family Planning (FP) by private sectors, presentation of FP investment case for feedback and discussing plans towards actualising FP2030.
The minister pointed out that the forum demonstrated the Federal Government’s commitment to improve access to affordable family planning services as a clear strategy for enhancing the health and overall well-being of Nigerians especially women, girls, and children.
He lamented that Nigeria is currently confronted with grave social and economic development challenges associated by the nation’s dwindling revenue, which became inadequate to cater for about 211 million population.
This, he said further worsened the poor health indices including high maternal mortality ratio of 512 deaths per 100,000 live births, very low modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) of 12 percent and an Unmet Need for Family Planning of 19 percent (NDHS 2018).
With a total fertility rate of 5.3 percent and an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent, the country is projected to double her current population and become the 4th most populous country in the world by 2050.
To this end, the FMoH&SW in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of Mr. President unveiled a four-point agenda to strengthen the health sector which borders on improved governance, population health outcome, unlocking healthcare value chain and health security.
Pate pointed out that the ministry has kick-started major interventions in collaboration with stakeholders such as the provision of free FP information, services, and commodities to Nigerians of reproductive age at all public health facilities, and mobilisation of resources from government and partners to support implementation of interventions.
Also, adoption of the task-shifting and sharing policy enabling certified community health extension workers and strengthening stakeholders’ coordination of FP interventions in Nigeria.
The minister said that such measures initiated by the Federal Government over the past two decades entailed huge investments of financial, human and material resources, that had resulted in increased demand for family planning services and commodities.
“At the just concluded 64th National Council on Health Meeting, the council approved the request for establishment and funding of budget lines for FP at both national and sub-national levels for the implementation of FP programmes.
“While this is a positive step, it must be said that addressing the funding and other challenges facing Nigeria’s family planning programme goes beyond the public sector.
“A broad-based stakeholder engagement process involving the public, social marketing, as well as the private sectors is required. It is important to note that a National Guideline on Private Engagement for Family Planning has already been developed and will be a useful tool in driving this process,” he added.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Health, Dr. Salma Anas informed that among the many interventions, such as skilled birth attendance, access to ANC and CEmONC services, family planning is one of the most cost-effective strategies for reducing maternal mortality.
She frowned that Nigeria accounts for 20 percent global burden of maternal mortality rate, adding that maternal mortality accounts for 59,000 deaths of women annually in Nigeria.
Anas hinted that Nigerian women are 500 times more likely to lose their lives in childbirth when compared to most advanced nations of the world.
She pointed out that investment in FP would reduce the maternal mortality burden to 30 percent.
Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu said that Nigeria’s growing population has its attendant challenges such as increased unemployment, high rate of poverty, poor access to sanitation, poor health, lack of or poor education and increased crime rates.
Mrs Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Health District 6, Dr. Abimbola Mabogunje noted that one effective tool for tackling the problems is for families to give birth to the number of children they can raise.
“Although government is making frantic efforts to enable women have free access to modern family planning but there is a need for all relevant stakeholders in the health sector to join forces with the government towards effective funding of family planning services,” she said.
Deputy Representative of UNFPA Nigeria, Mr. Koessan Kuawu stated that Nigeria’s maternal mortality is a major public health challenge.
He noted that by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, spacing pregnancies, empowering women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health, and improving access to quality healthcare, that family planning saves lives.
“Unfortunately, family planning needs in Nigeria remain largely unmet with a funding gap amounting to $32 million in 2023 (need of $41,9 million against funding of $12,4 million); this results in 19 percent of women of reproductive age who want family planning but do not have access to it, according to the latest National Demographic Health survey of 2018.
“We believe that a mutually beneficial partnership with the organised private sector, clearly articulated in Nigeria’s FP2030 commitments and the National Private Sector Engagement Strategy will bring about: saving the lives of thousands of women and girls in our communities;
“This will offer opportunity and support to the private entities to fulfill their social responsibilities in an impactful way,” he said.
The President/Chief Executive Officer, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), Prof Oladipo Ladipo explained that Nigeria needs qualitative reproduction.
He said that the private sector should invest in the production of family planning commodities which can be exported to other countries, thereby reducing the cost of procurement when compared with importing from other developed countries.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou said that investing in family planning is a development that could accelerate achievements across the five Sustainable Development Goal themes of: ‘People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.’
“Government alone cannot solve all the problems, that is why the nation continue to rely on donor-driven intervention to address our family planning issues.
“There is an urgent need for us to look inward for domestic resource mobilisation through private sector engagement. Improved utilisation of the private sector is key to achieving universal access to a range of safe and effective modern contraceptive methods as stipulated by FP2020 and SDG commitments,” she said.
BY CHIKA OKEKE, Abuja