The National President of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria under the Partnership for Advocacy in child and family health At Scale, Minnie Oseji, has lamented the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw the annual £3 million into the basket fund for Family Planning (FP) commodities of Nigeria.
Mrs Oseji, in a statement issued to journalists in Abuja, asked the Minister of Finance and Nigeria’s federal government to step in and fill the gap to prevent the negative consequences that poor funding of family planning can cause in an already overpopulated country with dire demographic challenges.
“Between 2012 to 2020, the UK government pledged and paid into the Nigeria FP commodities basket fund a total of 21million pounds for the procurement of FP commodities. UK government support contributed to saving the lives of millions of Nigerian women who would otherwise be unable to delay pregnancies and be at risk of maternal death,” she said
She, however, lamented that the same Conservative Government which pledged to save lives of women in the developing world has beaten a retreat from this commitment, signalling that the UK will no longer be paying the annual £3 million into the basket fund for FP commodities of Nigeria.
“Nigerian women could only expect one-fifth of this sum for 2021, with no certainties about future funding. So, Nigeria is facing an 80 per cent cut from the UK government’s contribution to the procurement for FP commodities. This is coming at a time when families are increasingly unable to meet the out-of-pocket expenditure for commodities, cannulas, and cough syrup,” she added
Mrs Oseji revealed that several experts in the Nigerian maternal health space have questioned the timing and merit of this decision because, according to her, the withdrawal of family planning funding in Nigeria will undoubtedly have a harmful impact on the UK government flagship Lafia health project, a project with FP as one of the three most significant components. In addition, financial savings gains may well lead to programmatic failure for the UK.
“We the 23 civil society organizations of the Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health at Scale project, join with the maternal health community of Nigeria to call on the UK government to rethink this ill-timed and harmful decision to Nigerian women. We also recognise the opportunity in the moment for the Nigerian Government,” she appealed.
Reports indicate that the decision of the UK government to cut funding for maternal health comes at a time when the Federal Government of Nigeria launched a new Family Planning Blueprint (2020-2024) on October 12, 2020. The blueprint is Nigeria’s roadmap for safe motherhood through the healthy timing offered by modern FP commodities. The blueprint is a clear and operational document with targets, performance indicators, and an accountability mechanism for CSOs to track and assess implementation performance. But to implement the blueprint, substantial cash backing is needed. Cash backing will ensure adequate commodities and equip health workers with the skills and practices to provide quality services. In an advocacy visit to the Federal Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, by the Nigerian Medical Women, a leading CSO partner in the Partnership for Advocacy for Child and Family Health at Scale project, the minister on March 26, 2021, promised to make good on government’s commitment to family planning and to release withheld funding for this line item. With the UK government’s reduced financing of commodities, the Nigerian government must prioritize adequate funding for family planning. This is a golden moment for the government to keep its promise of delivering maternal health for Nigerian women of reproductive age. With the UK stepping back and beating a retreat, Nigerian health sovereignty is the true moment to benefit the nation’s women.
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