56 CSOs request FG to increase budget for Family planning

To mark the World Population Day (WPD) today, July 11, 56 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called on federal government to ensure funds for family planning are secured and released on time to improve the health of Nigerian women.

The call was made in a letter submitted during a courtesy call to the Health Minister ahead of the ongoing London Summit on Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), which will take place on the 10th and 11th of July.

The CSOs observed that between 2012 and 2016, the Nigerian Government met just 11 % of its FP2020 pledged to provide US$3 million per year for the purchase of family planning commodities and an additional US$8.35 million for life-saving maternal, newborn, and child health commodities.

This current expenditure according to the CSOs is insufficient to support Nigeria’s achievement of the National Family Planning (FP) mCPR goal of 36% by 2018.

Also, a non-governmental organisation, Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) Lagos, said increased budget for family planning at state and federal level will help reduce Nigeria’s high maternal mortality rate.

In a release to mark the day, the Lagos State Team leader for Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, NURHI-2 project, Dr Edun Omasanjuwa, said investing in family planning will help Nigeria achieve the SDGs. For instance, he said The SDG 1 which aimed at eliminating poverty can be achieved at household level when women use family planning to space their pregnancies and avoid unplanned pregnancies. “Without unplanned pregnancies, a woman can have time to further her education, get a good job and take care of her family. Families with fewer children will have enough resource to take care of the children, giving them quality education and good food unlike families with large mouths to eat. This also applies in Goal2 which seeks to end hunger by 2030″, he said.

For women who are breastfeeding, he said the breastfeeding method of family planning—the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), can help a woman doing exclusive breastfeeding, to avoid unplanned pregnancy, breastfeed for a longer period hence ensure better nutrient uptake for the baby.

For Goal 3 which speaks of good health and well-being, he said family planning will help avert maternal death and complication thereby improving the health of the woman and also that of the baby.”Spacing pregnancies help women replenish essential nutrients lost during previous pregnancy. It also gives mothers more time and resources to breastfeed their baby properly”

Due to the fact that early pregnancies is one of the causes and consequences of dropping out of school, Dr Omasanjuwa, said family planning will help achieve SDG 4&5, which speaks of quality education and gender equality respectively.

“Family planning can help women and girls, especially those who have become mothers, stay in school, become literate, learn a trade, start a business, or otherwise achieve their educational and employment goals. It will also empower the girl child, helping her make decisions particularly those regarding her reproductive health”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Senior Technical Advisor, Advocacy for Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), Mrs Charity Ibeawuchi, expressed her worry over poor family planning uptake and maternal health of Nigerian women.

She said; “Although family planning alone reduces maternal deaths by more than 33 percent yet only 10% use modern family planning methods”.

She noted that the health of the women, particularly those of reproductive age (15 49 years) in Nigeria are at risk of the silent epidemic of poor maternal mortality and morbidity. Twenty-three percent of our teenage girls (age 15-19) are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. Half of our teenage girl population are already married by age 18, while 61% are married by age 20. Women in Nigeria have an average of 5-6 children. Studies have shown the strong linkage between high fertility, high-risk births, poor access to modern family planning/child birth spacing methods and high maternal mortality ratio.

the enormity of the current high maternal mortality and morbidity in Nigeria is staggering. The social and economic costs due to the complications and deaths to the family and the nation are enormous and should be resolved as a national priority, she said.

While Recognizing the efforts of Nigerian government such as the adoption of National Family Planning Blueprint (Costed Implementation Plan) in October 2014, which is aimed at scaling up modern family planning services uptake and enhancing positive behaviours among women and families, she pointed out that budget lines and funding dedicated to maternal health, including family planning information and services at the federal, state and local governments levels are grossly inadequate to achieve this goal.

In order to tackle the challenges of uptake of family planning, Mrs Ibeawuchi recommends political commitment backed by adequate and sustained funding of family planning programmes by the government at all levels will create the necessary enabling environment that will result in decreasing maternal deaths and morbidity thereby increasing maternal survival, increased productivity and poverty reduction.

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