As the world on Sunday rolled out drums to mark the 2021 World Contraceptive Day, family planning experts have said despite Nigeria having the best family planning policies and strategies, the outcomes have been poor due to poor budgeting and lack of funding at the state and local government levels.
In a chat with Good Health Weekly, the experts also said the country was off track in the target it committed alongside other countries to achieve modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate, mCPR, of 27 percent, among women aged 15¬49 regardless of marital status.
However, statistics from the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, showed that Nigeria has achieved 17 per cent CPR among all married women and 14 per cent among all women.
A family planning expert, Dr Ejike Orji, noted that even though it is on record that Nigeria budgeted $3 million and eventually upgraded to $4 million for family planning commodities and services, there have not been effective releases of the funds.
Orji, who is the Chairman, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, AAFP, said statistics show that the Federal government has continued to lag in budgeting for domestic funding to improve family planning services.
Orji identified leadership, governance and service delivery structures as some of the issues hampering family planning progress, maintaining that the major challenges were at the sub-national levels – state and local levels.
He said states are not budgeting enough for family planning while most of the states don’t even have a line item for family planning services in their budget or commodities.
Orji said the situation has led to a lot of stockout, adding that most states do not even put money on-demand generation.
“As we speak, the little that has been done, 20 per cent of the Nigerian women said they want family planning but they are not getting it. So that means that we are not meeting the demands of the women,” he lamented.
Orji said Nigeria was in the process of reconstituting for 2030, warning that, this time, the civil society groups and the media should make governors and local government chairmen tell them what they are doing.
Corroborating his views, Senior Programme Advisor, Reproductive Health, Pathfinder International, Dr Sakina Amin Bello, said Nigeria was absolutely off track to achieving family target.
Bello said non-release of funds created a huge gap in meeting the target.
“Why family planning services were added as essential services in some states, funds to procure commodities were not released.
She said investment in family planning is both impactful and cost-effective. We should intensify effort to call for increased funding for family planning by government at all levels.”
She stressed the need for more investment, enabling policies and demand for accountability.
Bello said the COVID-19 pandemic affected access to family planning in Nigeria, adding that “COVID-19 came unexpectedly and slowed down sexual and reproductive health services including family planning”.
The expert said measures put in place to circumvent the impact produced little results, adding that the fear of COVID-19 among health care providers and clients increased and led to a reduction in client visits to health facilities.