Ooni, UNFPA, others harp on more investments in family planning
- Senator slams FG for non release release of health budget
ABUJA – The Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Adeyeye Eniitan Ogunwusi, on Monday joined the Senate, opinion leaders and major institutions working on improving care for women and girls in the country to appeal to all tiers of government in the country to invest more resources in the uptake of family planning programmes and other health interventions targeted at saving lives of women and girls.
Addressing the 5th Annual Family Planning Consultative Stakeholders meeting in Abuja, the Ooni challenged government to lead campaigns on quality life for women and girls by ensuring huge deaths recorded among the female folks in the country daily are reduced.
He frowned at the manner women die of preventable conditions across the country, and called for measures towards halting the deaths.
The monarch likened such deaths with daily crash of airplane carrying 120 passengers, which he said should put affected nation into continuous mourning.
At the three-day meeting where new multi-media communication plan and logo for family planning/child spacing, developed by the Federal Government to help change behavioural pattern of Nigerians to family planning services were launched, the Ooni said it was high time tiers of government in the country made needed and sustainable investments to improve the health of women and girls.
“This initiative is something that I am very passionate about; child spacing, family planning. We only talk about it; we are just scratching the surface. It is something that is deeper than that. I repeat it is something that we should take very seriously in our country. Just imagine this practical illustration. We don’t pray for disaster.
“You can imagine if we have a plane crash and we have 120 future leaders inside that plane crash. That is a national disaster. The entire country will be thrown into a state of mourning. That will be the discussion for at least one week. Various offices, everywhere; that is what people will be talking about.
“There is no difference between what we are here today (talking about) and that same national disaster that I just compared. The only difference is material loss of aircraft. But, we have loss of human beings. You can imagine losing 110 women on a daily basis in this country. You can imagine having statistics of maybe those children coming to this world innocently will make it. You can imagine that national disaster on daily basis.
“The reason we are not feeling it is that one will happen in Sokoto, another one will happen in Kafanchan, one will happen in Osun, one will happen in Lagos. It is being spread across the country. It is not being put together the way that national disaster I’ve just compared will be. It is very important for us to take this thing very seriously,” he said.
He went on: “It is something we should avoid because it is avoidable. It is very avoidable. We all have to take it very serious…population growth for any nation is an asset, if it is well planned, if it is well channeled. But, if it is not well planned, it will become a liability. I am imploring the Federal Government of this country and all the state government officials and even governors to pay more attention to this national disaster.
“Is it because we are not reading it from headlines of newspapers on daily basis? It is something we should be mourning about on daily basis. We are losing lives, we are losing innocent souls. It is just for us to continue to sensitize the youths, girls between the age of 18 and 25. It happens mostly between that age bracket. I am imploring every one of us; we can play a very pivotal role in this.
In his remark, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Olanrewaju Tejuoso frowned at the manner he said Federal Government fails to release approved funds for health programmes in the country. He said with the manner government handles funding of the sector, it would not be surprising to keep seeing strikes among its employees.
The lawmaker said: “Unfortunately, one of the major problems, not only family planning, of our implementation in Nigeria today is the inability of the government is to release whatever is appropriated. There is no point for us having these discussions, we attach only to whatever we plan to do. And, at the end of the day, the allocation ends up in the paper in the budget.
“No matter how beautiful our presentations are, if we do not attach money that is available to it, we will not achieve so much. I was discussing with the master of ceremony (Chief Moji Makanjuola) when she said she wanted the Minister of State for Budget to speak before me, I said it is better I speak before her so that she can answer a few questions when I’m done. I will be as practical as possible. I will use the budget of this year 2017.
“We are in September, the budget was approved, maybe last month. For the health sector, there was release of funds a few weeks ago. For 90 percent of the institutions, only 15 percent of their budget was released in September; only 15 percent. Some institutions, maybe about four or five isolated. The reason for that, I don’t know.”
Tejuoso criticized the government for failing to fully implement the National Health Act, including its inability to fulfil the 2010 Abuja Declaration where heads of government on the continent agreed to commit 15 percent of their annual budgets to health.
The Country Representative, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Diene Keita, in her remarks, said Nigeria had made significant progress towards improving the health status of its women and children. She said this had led to the reduction in maternal and child mortality and morbidity in the last five decades.
“However, it is not news that Nigeria contributes about 40 percent to global burden of maternal deaths. The reality is that every day in Nigeria 110 women die due to preventable pregnancies-related complications,” she said.
She urged that causes of maternal deaths should be addressed, adding that the use of low-cost family planning/child spacing commodities would be greatly helpful in that regard.
According to her, about one-third of preventable maternal deaths can be avoided delaying motherhood among young girls and by use of family planning commodities.
“UNFPA is committed to helping the world including Nigeria to deliver a future where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” the UNFPA Chief stated.
Diene stressed that to accomplish the mission, there must be effective policies in place.
Also in his remarks, Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said it is accepted that proper family planning and child spacing strategies play critical roles in improving the health and saving the lives of women, families, communities and nations by contributing to significantly reducing maternal and mortality and morbidity as well as other reproductive issues like unsafe abortions and HIV transmission.
According to him, scientific evidence demonstrates that family planning and child spacing reduce maternal mortality by 40 percent and infant mortality by 25 percent. He said with proper family planning, mothers and children are healthier and fathers are less-stressed financially and families live clearly happier and are more successful in their daily activities.
“Family planning and child spacing as a strategy ultimately also helps to address the question of population growth which is important for national planning, and which advanced nations utilize in formulating policies for population growth that aligns with planning their economic development agenda.
“In Nigeria, family planning like many other health indices unfortunately is not in a very good state. Contraceptive prevalence rate for example is just 15 percent and unmet need is high as 16 percent, which maternal and infant mortality rates are very high.”
He urged that stakeholders needed to find answers and solutions to factors militating against successful implementation of family planning and children spacing in the country.
Some of the dignitaries present at the event include the Emir of Shonga, Dr. Halilu Yahaya; the Ministers of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole;; wife of Senate President, Mrs Toyin Saraki; members of the National Assembly, State Commissioners for Health, heads of missions and leading health non-governmental organizations in Nigeria.
Theme of the conference, sponsored by UNPFA, Federal Government and other partners is: “Investing in Family Planning: key to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.”