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How Nasarawa, partners promote access to contraceptives during pandemic

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The COVID-19 crisis has not only left significant number of women and couples without access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare, but could go as far as having a devastating impact on the futures of millions of girls and young women across the country .

Some state governments are unable to fashion out plans to address the danger posed by the pandemic to the health of women, especially the adolescents and young girls. But Nasarawa State Government, in collaboration with partners, which include the Society for Family Health (SFH) and A360 Project , as observed by The Guardian, has not been leaving any stone unturned in order to ensure that the supply chains for contraceptive commodities to the extire state especially the rural communities are not disrupted.

The state Ministry of Health in collaboration with the aforementioned partners recently engaged members of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists, Nigeria (NRHJN) in a media roundtable on Adolescent and Young Persons Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs in the midst of COVID-19, via a webinar. It reiterated that the state was leaving no stone untouched in its quest to address the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent sexual reproductive health.

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Moreso, the state and its partners as well as the various facilitators are reaching out to adolescent and young persons with essential life-building skills and sexual reproductive health services in COVID-19 era.

They took members of the network down memory lane on how the state has been surmounting the challenges thrown up by the outbreak of the pandemic which necessitated lockdowns on movement nationwide and globally. The state, according to the various experts, succeeded in ensuring a vote for adolescent health activities in its primary healthcare development budget for 2020. It as well went to extra legitimate miles to set up adolescent and young persons sexual and reproductive health technical working group.

Despite the challenges identified, which they enumerated to include providers bias towards adolescents, insufficient health workers trained on adolescent and young persons sexual reproductive health, among others. They said their efforts also led to the mapping and identifying local government areas and facilities to scale up A360 activities.

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The speakers include the state commissioner for health, Ahmed Yahaya; Executive Secretary of the State Primary Health Care Agency, Mohammed Usman; Senior Special Adviser to the governor on health, Princess Margaret Ekayo, among others. They agreed that the governor made it possible for them to insert the right pegs in the right holes, hence the achievement of the desired results.

They also acknowledged that the closing down of facilities due to lockdown especially in Karu local government council impacted negatively on the adolescent sexual reproductive health. They said the situation led to “rape in some parts of the state.” Activities of the government in collaboration with the partners, according to them, have not only reduced unintended pregnancies and maternal mortality but gone a long way to sustain improvements in the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls beyond the life of the project. They observed the pandemic is having potential catastrophic secondary impact on the health of women and girls in some parts of the country as they are often denied care outright or face dangerous delays getting the services they needed. The situation, going by the various presentations by the partners, seems to be different in Nassarawa.

Some of the facilitators spoke extensively on how they were able to mobilise during the pandemic. They said various steps were adopted in reaching adolescent and young persons with essential life building skills and sexual reproductive health services in COVID-19. The partners urged rapid adaptations to ensure adolescents and young persons are empowered to achieve their future dreams.

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