Inability to access fund, a major setback for family planning in Delta — experts

Monday, June 29, 2020

Asaba, June 26, 2020(NAN) Experts on reproductive health, have blamed the setbacks witnessed in family planning uptake in Delta on inability to access the N25 million budgeted for the programme by state government.

They spoke at a roundtable and media chart on Friday in Asaba, on the theme,”Family Planning Budget Line Release; The Great Imperative in Delta State.”

They said that Delta Government budgeted N8.5 million in 2018 and through pressure and demand, the budget provision was pushed up to N25 million in 2020 but regretted that the fund was never released to finance Family Planning programmes in the state.

On her account, the Advocacy Core Group Chairperson, Mrs Rachael Obodo-Obuneli, blamed the Reproductive Health Department of the State Ministry of Health for its inability to advance a memo to ensure release of the funds.

She said Federal Government, in 2018, invested a total sum of N2.9 billion as counterpart fund for the programme, but released N300 million in 2019 for the same programme.

She noted that with the current novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, governments had virtually neglected other health challenges such as; family planning, malaria among others which currently posed serious challenge in the society.

She said that there was no doubt that the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 had impacted negatively on the people, adding that most families would come down with cases of unplanned pregnancies due to lack of consumables and access to facilities to take up family planning.

“The budget line for federal government was between 2018 and 2019; in 2018, the federal government matched up the donor’s funding with N2.4 billion and another N500 million was also given to improve family planning through contraceptive use intervention.

“In 2019, the federal hovernment had zero budget for the programme but the sum of N300 million was released for contraceptives, this is about 90 per cent reduction in funding of the programme in the country compared to that of 2018.

“There is a very huge gap in funding the programme in the country, this is the reason why there has been shortage of commodities among others at the Primary Health Care Facilities across the country in the period under review.

“But for Delta State, the government budgeted N8.5 million in 2018, and now in 2020, the state budgeted N25 million for family planning.

“Up till now, the money have not been accessed and on inquiry, we discovered that memos have not been raised by the relevant department which is the Reproductive Heath Department of the State Ministry of Health,” she said.

According to Obodo-Obuneli, the programme has been sustained by donor agencies within the period.

Also, Dr Bobola Agbonle, Principal Medical Officer, Delta State University Health Sciences, Asaba Campus, said unless the government took decisive action, the impact of the lockdown would reflect on cases of unplanned pregnancies and population explosion.

“We have been on the lockdown for upward of three months now since March, and come December, we are going to have explosion of babies.

“And at the same time, we are also expecting explosion of abortions because most women can take the decision to abort the unwanted pregnancies and that is equally a problem as many babies will die.

“There is also a rise on issues of violence against young girls and women now, so, this is why we must push for women to take up family planning to save lives and prevent unplanned pregnancies and death by abortions,” she said.

She noted that child spacing through family planning helped prevent death during pregnancies, adding that the more children a woman has, exposed her to higher risks and death.

Agbonle, also said that the current economic challenge calls for family planning, adding that most families could no longer feed adequately.

According to her, infant mortality is on the increase because the nutritional requirement for a child to remain healthy, is lacking.

“With family planning, we can prevent challenges of malnutrition, sexually transmitted disease, death by abortion, teenage pregnancies among others, this is why we must continue to push for family planning,” she said.

By Ifeanyi Olannye