LAWG urges LG heads to release regular funds for family planning consumables
Group condemns reduced Lagos health budget
To ensure that family planning services and consumables are free at the local government level, the Lagos State Advocacy Working Group (LAWG) has urged the sole administrators of council areas to make available and release regularly, a monthly imprest for same at the Primary Health Centres (PHCs).
The group made the call during its last review meeting held in collaboration with Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) in Lagos.
It noted that family planning consumables were now free at the secondary facilities. Some PHCs have also started making FP consumables free.
According to the group’s chairperson, Ayo Adebusoye, this improvement is partly due to its many advocacy visits to some of the Sole Administrators of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), requesting for imprest for FP consumables.
“As a result of these visits, some of the sole administrators have started releasing monthly imprest for FP consumables while others have promised to release fund. This means that soon FP consumables will become free at the LG level. Also, women should know now that at the Lagos State secondary facilities like the general hospitals, FP consumables are now free. According to a statement by the permanent secretary health service commission, the medical directors have started ensuring that this is put in place. This is a big step in improving the uptake of family planning in the state,” he said.
While commending the LAWG team for their effort, NURHI-Lagos Programme Officer, Prince Adewale Haastrup, admonished them not to rest on their oars. He said there was need to follow up on the sole administrators and medical officers of health (MOH) at the local government level to ensure that the funds are released regularly as promised.
“Although FP commodities are free in all the state health facilities, the FP consumables have not been free at the PHCs and this has hindered many women from accessing the service. From the first quarter of this year, we will be holding town hall meeting to sensitize the local government on family planning service,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Accountability Mechanism (LASAM), a group that seeks for improvement of maternal and newborn health services, has condemned the sharp decrease in the amount appropriated for the sector in the 2017 budget proposal while calling for an urgent review.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode last month presented the 2017 Lagos State budget proposal of N813 billion to the House of Assembly. Although the entire budget increased by N150 billion when compared to the 2016 budget of N662.6 billion, the health vote fell from N64bn (9.76 per cent of the budget in 2016), to N57.29bn (7.05 per cent in 2017). This is a far cry from the targeted 15 per cent health budget pledge made in 2001 by African heads of states.
Reacting to this during the Knowledge Management and Communications (KMC-LASAM) sub-committee end of year review meeting in Lagos, LASAM’s Co-Chairperson,. Ayo Adebusoye, expressed dismay over the actual decrease of the state’s health budget in 2017.
“This shows that health is not being prioritized in the state. Lagos state is in need of great investment in health due to the high maternal and child mortality rate of the state so any reduction is something we should be concerned about. There are critical areas that needs to be budgeted for; areas that have to do with maternal and new born health (MNH). For instance, we need an increase in family planning consumable budget, to make sure it’s free so that there can be an increase in uptake in order to meet the FP target blue print,” he said.
Since the budget is still not approved, the group called on the state government to review it or create a supplementary appropriation for maternal and newborn health issues.
They reminded Ambode of his promise to fully implement the community health insurance scheme which he said would begin in the first quarter of this year.
According to them, most Lagosians pay out of pocket for medication; hence the health insurance scheme will help solve the problem of high medical bills.
LASAM also called the attention of the government to the lack of adequate midwives and qualified doctors at Lagos health facilities. This they said was based on evidence from a MNH 2016 scorecard developed by the Group in collaboration with Mamaye Evidence for Action (E4A) team.
“According to the evidence from the scorecard, there is insufficient midwives and qualified doctors at health facilities, there is also poor uptake of antenatal care before 20 weeks pregnancy as well as poor family planning uptake in the state. Based on this, we request that the Ministry of Health should increase awareness and mobilize communities to increase the uptake of antenatal care before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Lagos State Government should increase the availability of essential drugs for maternal and newborn babies in public health facilities in Lagos State, it should ensure functional blood bank that can screen and store blood in all secondary facilities in Lagos State,” the group added.
*Osakwe is a Maternal and Newborn Child Advocate