How to get the intervention of the private sector in bridging the funding gap for family planning, was the highpoint of a recent meeting convened to improve the availability of family planning commodities as well as the uptake of services. The High Level Private Sector Forum on Family Planning Forum which took place in Lagos, brought together representatives of the government, corporate stakeholders and the media to promote private sector engagements in enhancing reproductive health in Nigeria. The forum was organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In his speech, Dr Ali Muhammad Pate, the minister of health and social welfare said in the last five years, the cost of family planning procurement has risen from USD26,685,834.33 in 2019 to USD41,852,705.15 in 2023. “Over the same period, procurement funding gap has increased from USD5,794,330.95 in 2019 to USD29,054,665.15 in 2023, making it impossible to achieve full supply of family planning commodities to health facilities. He noted that the nation’s high population of about 211 million makes the country the most populous in Africa and 7th in world.
According to Pate, poor health indices including very high maternal mortality ratio of 512 deaths per 100,000 live births, a very low modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) of 12 per cent and an Unmet Need for Family Planning of 19 per cent (NDHS 2018), have contributed to further compound the situation. “With a total fertility rate of 5.3 and an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent, the country is projected to double her current population and become the 4th most populous country in the world by 2050,” lamented Pate who was represented by Dr. Stella Nwosu, director of Family Planning Development at the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
Deputy Representative, UNFPA Nigeria, Mr Koessan Kuawu noed that 30 percent is the assessment of the global impact of family planning, though the statistics was a 2021 data. “The bottom line is that family planning is an essential service to reduce maternal mortality not only in Nigeria but it’s also a matter of empowerment and has an impact for women and the whole economy of Nigeria,” he said. . Kuawu, however affaimed that family planning cannot be addressed by the government alone. “We need partners and we have also heard that there is no success without the private sector.
“The way the private sector can engage in the issue of family planning is that they could direct investment to the provision of family planning commodities across the countries. There are many ways of going into the supply chain, of investing in the manufacturing of locally made family planning commodities. Also as part of the sustainable development commitment to participate in the country that are already being implemented by the government and partners into various areas of strengthening the capacity of service providers on the ground like midwives.”
He said, “There are many ways for the private sector to be able to engage in this. What we expect is a concrete commitment and a better understanding as to how they want to participate. The choice is there for each of the companies to see how best they want to participate.” Kuawu lamented that the gap in the funding of family planning has been widening unfortunately instead of reducing and now “we are 32 million dollars of gap; that means it needs to be filled, adding “We hope that the contribution of the private sector will significantly fill this gap.”
On her part, wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu who was represented by Dr Abimbola Mabogunje, permanent secretary, Health District 6, said, “Although the government is making frantic efforts to make access to mod- ern family planning free for women, there is a need for all relevant stakeholders in the health sector to join forces with the government to chart a course towards effective funding of family planning ser- vices.” Group Head, Corporate Communications, Access Holding Plc, Mr Amaechi Okobi, said, “At Access Holdings, we firmly believe that empowering women transcends being merely a social imperative; it is an economic imperative, a moral imperative, and a pathway to sustainable development.”