The 60th National Council on Health has ended in Abeokuta, Ogun State with five State governments pledging to improve and enhance the reproductive health challenges of the poor in their urban centres.
The governments of Ogun, Kano, Delta, Bauchi and Niger States made the decision when all signed letters of commitment with The Challenge Initiative (TCI) Nigeria, a global urban reproductive health program, to address reproductive health needs of urban poor.
By agreeing to promote the reproductive health issues of the urban poor, the states are committed to implement the Challenge Fund Catalytic Grant after a demand driven self-selection process.
According to Program Manager The Challenge Initiative, Dr Victor Igharo in a statement, “The Grant is aimed at providing technical and financial assistance to the states in implementing successful high impact Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) family planning proven interventions.
He noted that the Initiative will work with the various State Governments through the State Ministry of Health, State Primary Healthcare Development Agency and other relevant Departments and Agencies to implement the grant.
By this arrangement, each state is expected to be in the drivers seat of executing the grant while TCI provides light touch technical support.
The award is to fund planned activities targeted at ensuring improved social norms in favour of family planning.
It is also to ensure expanded and continuous availability of modern contraceptives; improve Quality of Contraceptive Care (Family Planning Services) as well as document improvements in supply, all aimed at improving uptake of Family Planning services amongst undeserved urban poor.
Nigeria showed her commitment to family planning when it launched the National Blueprint for Family Planning in 2014.
The Blueprint aims to achieve a National Contraceptive Prevalent Rate of 36% by 2018, re-position the Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing programme on its investment agenda and to ensure that all women of reproductive age (15-49 years of age) have unhindered access to modern family planning/child birth spacing methods of their choice.
According to Igharo, “For states to achieve the 2018 National target, they need robust plan to improve access to voluntary Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing – a key component of reproductive health that has proven to have transformative impacts on communities and countries to promote health and prosperity”.
With the challenge fund, these states are set to ensure the necessary shift in Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing programming at the structural, service and community levels.
Speaking to the 2018 target, Portfolio Director of John Hopkins University Centre fro Communication Program (JHUCCP), Nigeria country projects Dr. Mojisola Odeku nooted, “The Challenge Initiative offers a unique approach because interested Nigerian cities self-select to participate in the Initiative and bring their resources to the table in order to leverage significant resources and be able to provide high quality family planning and reproductive health services to those in need”.
With the Challenge Initiative, this set of grantees will be able to meet the growing demand for voluntary family planning, particularly among the urban poor, and break the cycle of poverty. Family planning and reproductive health gives women, families, and communities a brighter future.