Recent indications in the reproductive health sector shows that Nigeria’s marginal progress towards achieving its 2023 Contraceptive Prevalence Rate target in family planning is threatened.
This fear is coming on the heels of the disruptions in family planning services by the COVID-19 pandemic following the lockdown and most recently, the agitation of the Nigerian youth to end a unit of the police force, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The #ENDSARS protest and subsequent events saw to the vandalisation of some government and private facilities including, Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC’s) in the country.
This also led to the imposition of curfew by some state governments thereby restricting movements, in a bid to ending the violence.
Consequently, the crisis and subsequent curfew prevented women from visiting health facilities to access family planning commodities in many states.
Indeed, this could have ugly consequences in the efforts to achieve the CPR.
Indications are rife that the progress made in the appropriation and prompt release of funds in the 2019 budget by some governments might be lost, thereby slowing the move to achieve the country’s CPR target.
Currently, Nigeria’s CPR which is estimated to be 17 with a target of 27 percent by end of year 2020. However, statistics shows that due to low budget allocation to family planning, the CPR has remained low.
Evidence showed that the improvement recorded in family planning in 2019 was due to allocation and prompt releases of funds as experts decried that any setback might fuel population explosion.
Nigeria has a high population growth rate of about 2.6 percent due to its continuous high fertility over time and consistently falling mortality. Currently, Nigeria’s total fertility rate is put at 5.3 with a birth rate of 38 per 1000 population.
A critical look at recent data shows that budget allocation and release for family planning by governments in the country is generally low.
For instance, in 2017, the family planning need was N1.4 billion, while the total family planning allocation was N86.7 million (6.32 percent) in Lagos state.
However, N28m (32.39301 percent) was disbursed and expended on family planning in 2017. So the outcome of state’s spending on family as a percent of total funding need in 2017 was about two percent which is low according to experts.
Of the N1trillion budget by the Lagos State government in 2018, the total health budget was N92.5 billion, while total Health Capital Budget was N32.1billion.
However, the family planning funding need in 2018 was N1.1billion, while total allocation was N177.5 million. Government’s allocation for family planning as a percent of total funding needed per year in 2018 was 15.3 percent, however nothing was released meaning zero disbursement, expenditure and outcome.
Obviously, there is need for improved investment and release of budget allocations for family planning programmes by governments for the country to achieve its CPR target of 36 percent.
In 2012, the Federal Government committed to achieving a target of 36 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate by 2018. Despite the 2017 revision of this target downwards to 27 percent by 2023, Nigeria’s latest National Demographic and Health Survey(NDHS) estimates show a CPR of 17 percent among married women and 14 percent among all women which is still a far cry from the target.
This is because there are regional variations. The NDHS survey shows that only seven percent of married women in the north-west region use any family planning method, compared with 28 percent and 35 percent in the south-east and South-west zones respectively.
These estimates have only marginally increased from those of the 2013 report of the same survey; and, three years on, there are clear indications that Nigeria didn’t achieve the 2017 revised target.
Conclusively, it is noteworthy that governments at all levels should henceforth increase awareness on the importance of modern contraception as well as ensure adequate allocation and prompt release of family planning budgets.
BY Society for Media Advocacy On Health, Nigeria