Poor state of Lagos PHCs affecting FP uptake
Although family planning commodities are free in Lagos, lack of consumables and poor state of family planning clinics at the Primary Health Care (PHCs) remains a major hurdle to accessing the services at the PHC level.
A visit to some of the Lagos PHCs reveals that many of the facilities lack consumables for modern contraceptive procedure, some have no dedicated FP room to ensure privacy for users, they operate with old or incomplete equipment and others can’t offer implant due to lack of trained personnel or equipment.
For instance, at Itire-Ijesha PHC, located at Mushin Lagos, the facilities has its wall peeled and weathered, roof is torn, the windows have incomplete glass louvers and perforated- dusty window nets.
The facility has only one room for FP procedure and none for counselling, the instrument was rusty and incomplete, they have no sterilizer- they sterilize by boiling.
Further investigation reveal that the consumables are not always available at Itire – Ijesha PHC, the light is epileptic with no stand by generator.
It is based on this, and in order to make FP more appealing to women, to stop the high rate of maternal mortality in Lagos, that NURHI began a 72-hour refurbishing of 50 PHCs, to give the facilities a new look.
Explaining about the makeover, Dr. Omosanjuwa Edun, NURHI-2 Lagos team leader, said the reason for the project is to increase access to Family Planning among women and men of reproductive age in Lagos State and in Nigeria as a whole so that we can increase our contraceptive prevalence rate from the current national level of 15% to 36%”.
He further explained that the Local Governments and the PHCs selected for the make-over were based on the population of women of reproductive age. “Our selection was based on the Local Government Areas with the highest population of women of reproductive age. We believe those are the people who should be given priority on our list and they are the people who needs urgent intervention”
On his message to the general public Dr Omasanjuwa said people need to be more aware of the benefits of Family Planning. “Research has shown that Family Planning saves lives and reduces maternal deaths by up to 30%. So if ten women were to die as a result of pregnancy, Family Planning can save three to four of those women”.
He also enjoined religious leaders to embrace family planning as it is good for the entire society and not just women.
A family planning expert with Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), Mrs Charity Ibeawuchi, explained that Family planning alone reduces maternal deaths by more than 33%.
“Family planning is one of the most effective ways to prevent maternal, infant and child mortality. It reduces maternal mortality by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, the number of abortions and the proportion of high risk births. When family planning needs of women are met Nigeria can prevent more than a third of her total maternal deaths per year, saving 140,000 to 150,000 lives per year (National FP Blueprint 2014).