A coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has urged governments at all levels to prioritise implementation of Strategic Policy Documents on improving access to reproductive and maternal healthcare in Nigeria.
The NGOs, comprising Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria-Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale Project (PSN-PAS@Scale) and John Snow International/Access Collaborative, made the appeal at the inauguration and dissemination of Reproductive and Maternal Health Policy Documents in Abuja.
The documents are aimed at eliminating all preventable maternal deaths.
Mr Ibrahim Ayuba, the programme Director of PSN-PAS, in his keynote address, specifically urged the Federal and State Governments as well as relevant stakeholders to place a high premium on the dissemination and full implementation of these documents.
Ayuba, who however commended the federal government for the production, inauguration and dissemination of the documents, emphasised that efforts must be intensified in ensuring speedy implementation of the documents to meet the desired or target audience.
He identified the documents as high impact strategies and policies to improve maternal health outcomes of Nigerian women and girls.
Ayuba noted that the documents inaugurated by the Minister of Health aligned with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) efforts at eliminating all preventable maternal deaths by 2030.
According to him, Nigeria can achieve the 27 per cent modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) target by 2020 if these policy documents are fully disseminated and implemented.
Ayuba, who identified the revised Task Shifting and Task Sharing Policy (TSTS) that included Community Pharmacists (CPs) and PPMVs as part of the documents inaugurated, described it as key in providing expanded family planning and other primary healthcare services across the country.
“Key to us is that Community Pharmacists (CPs) and PPMVs by the revised Task Shifting and Task Sharing policy which is now launched, can provide expanded family planning and other primary healthcare services across Nigeria.
“Also, the implementation of these documents is key to reducing the current unacceptably high maternal and child mortalities in Nigeria. Over 111 women and girls die daily from pregnancy-related issues.
“We can save more lives by ensuring more women, girls and families access essential health services from CPs and PPMVs. According to the 2015 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), these healthcare providers contribute over 60 per cent of healthcare services to Nigerians,” Ayuba said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the documents inaugurated included Task Shifting Task Sharing Policy and Task Shifting Task Sharing Standard of Practice, December 2018.
Others are the National Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with emphasis on Women and Girls, Manual for Training Doctors and Nurses/Midwives on Post-Partum Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (PP LARC) Methods.
Similarly, Dr Adewole Adefalu, the Country Coordinator, John Snow,
International/Access Collaborative, noted that the documents would aid in facilitating the delivery of sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls especially the less privileged in the society.
Adefalu described the document as a rare privilege and opportunity given to women in terms of access and choice in reproductive health.
The country director, who also commended the Federal Government for the giant stride, noted that the Nigerian government had finally realised the issues of TSTS.
According to him, TSTS is key towards ensuring family planning and ensuring that other primary healthcare services are available to end users.
Adefalu, however, urged governments to ensure that the documents are fully implemented as against other previous documents that were not implemented.