…as 293,601 women embrace family planning

By Gabriel Olawale

Nigeria has a rapidly growing population, with current population estimates at over 200 million, out of which about 46 million are women of reproductive age. With a total fertility rate of 5.3, Nigeria’s population is likely to hit 400 million by 2050, becoming the fourth most populous country on earth.

At the current rate, it would take only about 30 years for the population of Nigeria to double itself. Fertility and mortality patterns have resulted in a young population structure, where more than 40 percent of the current population are children under the age of 15 years. Low uptake of family planning is a major factor in the fertility pattern and population growth rate.

The Nigeria government in its effort to improve access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services signed up to the sustainable development goals which include by 2030, ensuring access to family planning information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs.

The Government of Nigeria is also committed to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate of 27 percent by 2024 and working with state and local governments to secure complementary budgets for family planning and reproductive health services.

The commitment includes training frontline health workers to deliver a range of contraceptives and actions to improve equity and access to family planning for the poorest and to partner with the private sector, civil society, traditional and religious institutions, and development partners.

Taking lead in this initiative of improving access to family planning for the poorest and underserved population, Society for Family Health, SFH through its IntegratE project in 2017 embarked on four years’ capacity building projects in Kaduna and Lagos State with the goal of improving the quality of family planning services delivered by Community Pharmacists, CPs and Proprietary Patent Medicine Vendors, PPMVs in underserved areas.

The Project which was also co-sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers Foundation also offers SFH the opportunity to consolidate its long-standing partnership with the private health sector especially community pharmacists and PPMVs in Nigeria.

Speaking in Lagos during the IntegratE 1.0 End of Project Dissemination, Managing Director of SFH, Dr. Omokhudu Idogho said that in the 4 years of implementation, the project made considerable progress in delivering high impact training on family planning to private sector providers in the two states.“State Ministry of Health in the two states was also supported to institute monitoring and supervisory framework to ensure quality services through these providers, thus including them within the private Healthcare system at the state level.

Idogho who was represented by the Deputy Managing Director, Dr. Jennifer Ayanti said that the project also successfully developed demand creation, reporting, and referral systems aimed at strengthening the ability of the state health system to monitor this ubiquitous group of providers that are important to PHC and form the first port of call for health care by 70 percent of Nigerians.

“In the 4 years period of implementation, IntegratE trained a total of 1,457 private healthcare providers. The trained providers supported 293,601 women of reproductive age in Kaduna and Lagos in accessing family planning services. 101,335 of these women were new family planning acceptors

“The services provided by these providers also helped both states avert about 17,871 unintended pregnancies. Results from this pilot have shown that if properly trained and supervised, Community Pharmacists and PPMVs have the capacity to provide quality family planning and primary healthcare services.”

Speaking, the Permanent Secretary of Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye said that when the state was approached a few years ago to partner on IntegratE project, it was obvious that a huge opportunity had been given to the state, “the non-clinical private sector was not integrated into the family planning program in the state at that time and it presented a good opportunity to increase access for the teeming population.

“We are delighted to work with the Society for Family Health and other members of the consortium on this first phase and are delighted to continue to support this process through the next phase by providing support for capacity building and competency assessment sessions, supportive supervisory visits, and utilization of data for program planning.

Registrar, Pharmacist Council of Nigeria, Pharm. Elijah Mohammed said that the council was fully committed to the project in its aspiration to promote access to quality, effective and affordable medicines to Nigerians in line with the goal of the National Drug Policy as well as promoting access to primary health care services to achieve the goal of Universal Health Coverage.

Mohammed who was represented by the Director, Programmes Coordinating Department, Pharm. Emily Olalere said they are very optimistic that the project will truly transform the way healthcare services are delivered at the community level through the Community Pharmacists and the PPMVs.

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