Archive for October, 2016

 

As the Federal Executive Council prepares to present the second budget of this Administration to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari can demonstrate unparalleled commitment to Nigerians through the 2017 Budget and the commitments to the Health Budget contained within.

Nigeria has a weak health system, easily seen through the numbers of certain events that occur around the Country. Our own National Demographic and Health Survey of 2013 (NDHS) records 576 maternal deaths out of every 100,000 live births. This translates to the deaths of approximately 40,000 women every year (111 deaths per day or 5 deaths per hour) due to pregnancy or issues related to or aggravated by Pregnancy. Within the same NDHS, 69 infants die in every 1,000 live births and 128 children under 5 years die per 1,000 live births. This implies that 1 in 15 Nigerian children die before their first birthday and that 1 in 8 die before their fifth birthday.

Programs designed to enable families to choose the number and spacing of their children, increase the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel, increase immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases, provide early recognition, care and treatment to sick children especially children with Malaria, Pneumonia and Diarrhea, and programs to upgrade the status of women through education and enhanced participation in the labor force can all help to improve the probability of survival of young children.

A number of these programs already exist and are running across Nigeria. However, poor budgetary allocations to such critical programs has continued to undermine these programs, limiting our ability as a Nation to save the lives of women attempting to bring life into the world, and the lives of the babies. The programs that can save these lives are funded by the Capital Expenditure portion of the Health Budget, which stands at a meager N28 billion for 2016.

Beyond the very critical issue of saving lives and advancing the health of Nigerian families, the need for an increase in the Capital Expenditure portion of the Health Budget is evident in the current funding arrangement across Health programs. Currently, donors predominantly fund some of the most important programs that can save the lives of women and children. Programs cutting across family planning, immunization, nutrition and major childhood killer diseases fall into this category.

With the rebasing of Nigeria’s economy a few years ago, Nigeria moved up a development category and was no longer seen as a low-income country. This has resulted in the need for some of these donor funds to be wound down, as donor funds typically target countries in the low-income category. This means that while there is a gap in funding to support these programs currently, the gap is going to widen as donor funds wind down and are pulled out. Nigeria needs to take a position and begin to allocate increasing amounts of money to the Health Budget to sustainably fund these programs.

Additionally, as Nigeria looks to work its way out of a recession, the Nation must look to the evidence of some best practices around the World. Evidence from the work of the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health found that between the year 2000 and 2011, Health investments were responsible for nearly a quarter of economic growth in developing countries.

With limited income attributable to a global oil price crash, Nigeria must spend scarce resources smartly, for better outcomes. Investing in the Health Budget towards ensuring that the lives of women and children are saved, and that Nigerian families are healthier, increases the readiness of individuals to join the work force, increases the productivity of people already a part of the work force, reduces the number of days that members of a family are absent from work, and reduces the amounts of money committed by families to restore health. All of these have the potential to contribute to sustainable economic growth.

A recent Nigeria Health Budget trend analysis by the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health shows that 2016 was the year with the second lowest commitment to Health by the Federal Government, across a 10-year period. Additionally, the National Health Law mandates that 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government be committed to funding the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.

The President Buhari-led administration cannot afford to be remembered for a legacy of inadequate funding towards saving the lives of women and children. The administration will also not want to be remembered for refusing to obey the rule of law as mandated by the National Health Law, especially when this law simply seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of Nigerian children and families.

The Honorable Minister of health has a commitment to Nigerians to ensure that Child and Family health programs are adequately budgeted for and are a priority in the 2017 Health Budget. The Minister of Budget and National Planning has commitment to Nigerians to redeem his promise that he would work to ensure an increased 2017 Health Budget. President Buhari will need to lead this process to showcase his unparalleled commitment to Nigerians.

An investment in Health is an investment in the wellbeing of all Nigerians and an investment in the Economic growth and development of this nation.

 

Dr. Kaduru is a Program Officer for the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning, a , a registered National Coalition of family planning (FP) advocates including individuals, government ministries, departments and agencies, donors, development partners, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector, a coalition whose vision is for a Nigeria where every person has access to quality family planning information and services as a right.

Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child 2016

By Chinwe Onumonu

 

On this day, every year, the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.” As Nigeria looks to celebrate its Girls today, the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) deems it important that we put the health of our Girls at the forefront of celebrations.

The Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) is a registered national coalition of family planning (FP) advocates including individuals, government ministries, departments and agencies, donors, development partners, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the private sector.

As part of the preparations to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child 2016, AAFP performed a desk review of the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, towards highlighting the key challenges faced by women and girls across Nigeria. From the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, Nigeria has approximately 68 million women, with 30 million of these women falling into their reproductive age, and therefore being capable of getting pregnant. Out of these 30 million women of reproductive age, 6 million Nigerian girls and women get pregnant each year, with 5 million childbirths each year.

Nigeria has a reported maternal mortality ratio of 576 women per 100,000. When calculated against our total numbers of pregnancies and childbirths, the maternal mortality ratio translates to the death of approximately 40,000 women in Nigeria every year, as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, or conditions aggravated by the pregnancy.

In context, this translates to 111 girls and women dying every day, or 5 girls and women dying every hour in Nigeria!

Evidence from research studies show that successful Family Planning or Child Spacing programs contribute to about 30% reduction of the maternal mortality ratio. This includes both natural and modern methods of Family Planning or Child Spacing.

Investing in Family Planning not only has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of women and girls every day, it also provides other benefits for Nigerian children and families. The World Health Organization states that a woman’s ability to space and limit her pregnancies has a direct impact on her health and wellbeing and the outcome of each pregnancy, with an added positive impact on the family and the National Economy.

The Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition and Family Planning toolkit highlights key benefits of Family Planning or Child Spacing on nutritional outcomes for infants and young children. It highlights that children conceived within 6 months of a previous pregnancy face 42% greater odds of having low birth weight, compared to those conceived after a 36 – 47 month interval. The toolkit also highlights that unintended pregnancies are associated with a high-risk of stunting for the child.

Additionally, the ability of a mother to receive a resupply or re-orientation on Family Planning or Child Spacing at the time of penta 2 and penta 3 contacts, provide added incentive for mothers to return to the clinic on schedule, which increases both immunization and family planning or child spacing uptake. Family Planning or Child Spacing also enhances parental attention and care, and so reduces the risk of illnesses such as pneumonia or diarrhea, and ensures that when such illnesses occur, parents can spot them quicker and can potentially seek care sooner. All of these can significantly contribute to a reduction in the deaths of children under-5 years old.

While Nigeria has made progress in Family Planning or Child Spacing through a supportive policy environment, provision of free contraceptives in public sector facilities, developing and costing a national blueprint with the goal to scale-up FP services and uptake, and as an outcome of the Commitment made by Federal government at the 2012 London Summit on family planning, the program remains grossly underfunded. Available evidence shows that the budgetary provision for Health in Nigeria is grossly inadequate, and this in turn means that available funding is also inadequate to specifically allow individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births.

When Nigeria invests in girls’ health, safety, education and rights – in times of peace and crisis – we empower these girls to reach for their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their communities. Investing in girls’ health also ensures that Nigeria can make progress in achieving the sustainable development goals.

Increasing the health budget will ensure that programs that work to meet the National demand for Family Planning can be funded, towards saving the lives of Nigerian girls and reaping benefits across the liked issues.

As National Coordinator of the AAFP and Technical Director of the AAFP Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) project, a partnership project of indigenous non-governmental organizations, working to improve the health and wellbeing of Nigerian children and families, I would like to commend the work done so far by the Executive and Legislative Arms of the government in preparation for the proposal, defense and approval of the 2017 budget. We are particularly pleased at the perceived commitments from all sections to ensure an increase in the Health Budget. We look forward to translation of these commitments into outcome.

We would however like use this opportunity of the International Day for the Girl Child to call on the National Assembly to show their commitments to the Girl Child by ensuring that the relevant programs for child and family health are adequately budgeted for, and the overall 2017 Health budget is increased.

We would like to iterate that an investment in health is what counts for Girls!”

 

The 4th Nigeria Family Planning Conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (MOH) and other stakeholders holds from 7th – 9th November, at the Sheraton Hotels, Abuja.

The biennial conference provides opportunity for fostering policy debates, exchange of ideas and sharing experiences on FP/reproductive health issues especially on securing consensus on specific ways family planning can help reduce maternal mortality as well as contribute to Nigeria’s national development.

The theme for this year’s conference, is “Family Planning in Nigeria: The Journey So Far.” In addition Sub-themes have been carefully selected to address topical issues within this context. More information on the conference and on registration can be found at www.nigeriafamilyplanningconference.org

The Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family health (PACFaH), a partnership of local non-governmental organizations, working to improve the health and wellbeing of Nigerian children and families, recognizes that the Family Planning Conference provides a unique opportunity to engage with Academicians, and Post-graduate students across the Social Sciences -Sociology, Economics, demography; Communications, Public Relations, Media, Nursing, Pharmacy and Medicine, and Public Health with a passion and demonstrated interest in Child and Family health.

The PACFaH Project would therefore like to invite applications for sponsorship from interested individuals including Academicians, and Post-graduate students across Social Sciences -Sociology, Economics, demography; Communications, Public Relations, Media, Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Public Health, with a passion and demonstrated interest in Child and Family health, towards providing them with an opportunity to participate in the conference, learn and engage with FP stakeholders.

All interested individuals should submit their CV and one-page application letter to info@aafpng.org or dr.kaduru@gmail.com indicating why they want to participate in the conference.

Applications must be submitted by mid-day on Friday, October 14th 2016.