Stakeholders on Reproductive Health have called on Lagos State Government to help eliminate all forms of contraception barriers encountered by young people as a means to improve their health outcomes.
The appeal came at the end of a one-day media forum organised by Pathfinder International in collaboration with Public health sustainable advocacy initiative (PHSAI) and media stakeholders under the aegis, Media Advocacy Working Group (MAWG) to mark the 2019 World Contraception Day.
Media Partners noted that the non-collaborative efforts among stakeholders on activities that involve young people may be working at cross purpose thus jeopardizing the health outcomes of young adults especially on contraception.
Speaking on the steps by the state Ministry of Health to eliminate contraception barriers among young people, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye noted that the allocation of N29,840,000 in the 2019 budget provides for the establishment of four Youth Friendly Centres at Higher institutions across the state, Follow up visits to rape victims and physical abuse, Maintenance of Hello Lagos Centers, Termly mentoring sessions on safe Sex Education to Students in Public secondary schools and Provision of incentives (e.g. Sanitary pads, game tools, etc.) for student in secondary schools
According to Adebusoye, “Despite this promising development, Adolescents and Youths Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) Response is still largely donor dependent while inter-ministerial cooperation is almost non-existent”
He observed that situations where many of the Youth-Friendly centres still expects clients to pay for consumables to access certain commodities or do not even have provision for varieties of modern contraceptives except condoms cannot promote increase contraception in young population.
According to Adebusoye, some of the other issues are: Lack of access to adequate and accurate life planning information and services, Lack of youth friendly health facilities and provider bias and Poor knowledge of contraceptive options and benefits among others.
He noted also “Though the policy provides for provision of reproductive health services, it was not explicit on access to contraceptives or family planning services”.
Adding her voice to the conversation, Chief Youths Development Officer, Ministry of Youths and Social Development, Mrs. Rasheedat Umar observed the gaps in collaboration between the ministries of Health and Youths is capable of deepening the barriers to contraception uptake among young people.
According to Umar, “The two ministries have independent programmes for young people and do not have collaboration model on budgeting for joint programmes”.
Other stakeholders at the meeting also canvassed inclusion of people living with disabilities in programmes that are developed for sexual reproductive health of young people.
Communications Officer Pathfinder International, Somto Atuanya explained how the international body has succeeded in empowering 12 state governments to push the agenda of preventing contraception barriers through ensuring access to various family planning commodities .
Atuanya pleaded that more state governments endeavour to eliminate contraception barriers that hinder positive health outcomes among young people, “especially through timely releases of budgets for FP commodities”.
Contraception is described as the deliberate use of artificial method or other techniques to prevent pregnancy from sexual act. Various forms of contraception include barrier method, (condom, or sheath), pills, coil among others.
The purpose of the world contraception day is an opportunity aimed to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
Lagos State has remained one of the states with highest budgets for Family Planning in four years but has failed to match releases of budgets with the needs of the people.
For example, in 2017, the state budgeted N86 740,000 ($240,944,44) and this was increased to 177, 500, 000 ($493,055,56) in 2018.
In 2017, out of the budgeted funds, a total of $78, 049,17 representing 32.39 % of the total budget was released while in 2018, absolutely nothing was released for family planning in the state.