(Fatima checking her FP records)
Before the coming of Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) with support from Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation six years ago, Nigerians, especially in the Northern part, did not see a reason to embrace family planning due to myths and misconceptions around it.
Reproductive health experts believe that, effective family planning can reduce the maternal and newborn mortality rate up to 30 percent, hence, the huge investment in it to save more women especially in low-income settings of sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria.
In Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, NURHI selected some primary health centres where it carried out interventions so that access to family planning by interested women of reproductive age would not be an issue.
(Fatima checking FP commodities)
NURHI did what it called 72-hours intervention and trained family planning services providers on how to handle adolescent and young persons who may want to access any of the services.
With support from stakeholders like media, that story of six years ago has now changed. For example, before now, due to perception, family planning was known as childbirth spacing or child spacing. But today, family planning has become a household name due to massive awareness campaigns.
As the programme winds up on April 30, this year, Health4All Media Initiative, a coalition of media practitioners, working around FP and other health issues, visited some of the health facilities where NURHI carried out its intervention programmes including PHC Kagoro road, located in Sabon Gari, Kaduna South local government area of Kaduna State, to assess the success or otherwise of the programme.
In this facility, family planning commodities are no longer available and that is already leading to lost of clients in the area.
Although there are several commodities including condoms, T-Corper, bids, pills, implants, injectables among others, but most of women who wants the service prefer inplanol which is currently not available, hence, their decline in even visiting the facility any further.
At PHC Kagoro road, Kaduna, In 2016, 802 women came for family planning services. In 2017, the number skyrocketed to 1,791. However, in 2018, the number began to nosedive and stood at 1,371.
This decline has been attributed to inadequate supply of preferred commodities by the federal and state governments.
Officer-in-charge of the facility, Binta Danlami said, the intervention by NURHI has increased the acceptance of family planning within the catchment area of the facility.
According to her, “NURHI has done well while the programme lasted. Apart from coming here and demarcated this family planning corner, they supply family planning commodities and train the service providers.
“That intervention has increased the awareness and and created demand for the service by women around here. The service is free if charge. We don’t charge a kobo.
“One area NURHI has also done well is the area of misconceptions about family planning. Before now, women don’t want to come for family planning because they believe it will stop them from having children.
“But with massive awareness campaigns and testimonies of other women, we now have about 90 percent of women around here freely discussing family planning. They now understand that the idea of family planning is to allow them to rest between pregnancies.
“People want more of implants because of its durability. You know, that one can last longer unlike the daily pill that one may forget to take. But we don’t currently have them in stock.”
A service provider at the facility, Fatima Muhammed Alkali, decried how non-availability of the preferred commodities is sending her clients away on a daily basis.
“For now, we don’t have what our clients want. That is not helping us as we are losing them on a fast lane. If you compare the previous years record with what we have during the first quarter of the year 2019, you will see a sharp decline.
“We are out of stock here. We have to go to other facilities to pick some of the commodities we have now.
“The family planning method women here want is inplanol and injectables. But we don’t have them or even getting them in other places. They are not just available.
“NURHI had recently trained us on how to handle the adolescent and young persons who may want to access any of the services. We are still waiting for the green light in this regard.
“We just pray that another intervention programme will come up as NURHI II is going. They have tried. They have saved lives. They have left their name on the sand of time. We appreciate them. We hope our government will begin to look inward,” she added.