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Ensuring access to family planning commodities in rural areas

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Concerned by the likely surge of a maternal, newborn, child and pregnancy-related deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have urged the federal and state governments to enhance the contraceptive supply chain to enable women in the rural areas access family planning commodities.

They made the call during a one-week webinar training for health reporters and feature writers organised by Rotary Action Group for Reproductive, Maternal, and Child Health (RMCH) in partnership with the Society Of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) and the Federal Ministry of Health. They noted that the different methods of contraceptive distribution adopted in Nigeria have been inconsistent but neither addressed the recurrent stock-out in health facilities, which has made it difficult for women to access.

The Chief Midwife, RMCH, Evelyn Kutelu, in her presentation titled: “The different traditional and modern contraceptive methods and services offered in the family planning clinic”, stressed that contraceptive commodity distribution is a challenge within Nigeria’s health system that has resulted to stock-out in all the states at different point in time, despite the continued support from development partners, donor agencies and other stakeholders in the health sector.

She also pointed that lack of real-time data reporting has contributed to the commodity stock-out menace in the country, which she said poses grave danger if not addressed on time.

Also speaking, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Jos, Josiah Mutihir, said Nigeria, with a huge population of about 200 million people, has low contraceptive prevalence rate. He said the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the gross inadequacies of infrastructure, as most resources are diverted to containing the pandemic, while other essential services suffer. This he said, has adversely affected the contraceptive supply chain in the country. Proffering solutions, Kutelu said government at all levels must establish a standard contraceptive distribution plan from the national warehouse to the state, local government and health facilities, as these contraceptives help to prevent unplanned pregnancy, thereby reducing the pregnancy related risks and complications, including deaths of women and children.

Mutihir said government must implement policies on reproduction and health, so as to enable even distribution of contraceptive commodities using the most effective method to get to the needed areas in the country. He also noted that government should domesticate acts to ensure priority is given to family planning, while also calling on the media to help in information awareness, which will lead to family planning commodities demand creation.

Mutihir added that the private sector and Pharmacists should be carried along to ensure supply of these commodities.

“Private sector is an essential entity in the health sector, they provide about 60 percent of the healthcare in Nigeria.

They need the support of the government on subsidy as well as given the permission to ensure distribution of family planning commodities in the communities.

“The pharmacists are also essential and we need to supply them with commodities since they are the first point of contact in communities,” he added.

Also speaking, the Director, African Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy, Bayero University, Kano State, Prof. Hadiza Galadanci, called for more funding to address the stock-out situation of contraceptive commodities in the country in order to reduce maternal, child and pregnancy related mortality in the country.

She also added that it is important to have trained personnel in the distribution process to give accurate information to the users, who are most times discouraged due to the myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning methods.


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