COVID-19 impacting negatively on family planning in Nasarawa – Director of Public Health

From Esther Akaa, Lafia
Nasarawa state Government says the outbreak of Coronavirus other wise known as COVID-19 in Nigeria has affected family planning programmes in the state.
The Director of Public Health, Nasarawa State Ministry of Health, Dr Adamu Ibrahim stated this recently during an interaction with The Voice in Lafia.
Dr Ibrahim said the Coronavirus Pandemic has affected the various sectors of the economy due to the lockdown in some parts of the country especially the Federal Capital Territory ,Abuja and Lagos state which are the major cities of the country .
“Following the outbreak of COVID -19, a lot of activities have be scaled down in the state , however we agreed that we should continue providing essential services such services , Family Planning programmes, antenatal, immunisation, child welfare as well as the operation of our specialised clinics for hypertension , diabetes , cancer care ,Human Immune Virus ( HIV ) medicines ,malaria , among others.” Dr Ibrahim said.
He said the state has developed a strategy whereby women can access Family planning services based on separate appointments and services provided in such a way that they may not necessary go to the facilities to access due the restrictions on large gatherings. He however said said that the lockdown does not stop people from going to the hospital.
“There is high level of awareness of family planning services among males and females in the state which is over 80% but our challenge is the utilisation of these commodities which is not equal to the level of awareness.
“What we expect is that if there is over 80 % awareness and knowledge, we should expect a high proportion but our contraceptives prevalence rate hovers between 16 to 18 %. So for a population that has over 80% awareness and the utilisation is about 20% then it is a huge challenge ” he said.
He called on residents of the states to translate the awareness received on Family Planning programmes into utilisation , saying that the services are free.
“The proportion of women that are asked to pay a little token for consumables is still low and we are working on it to see that the issue of paying for consumables is totally eliminated , that little amount they pay at the point of obtaining these services will be handled when health insurance package for the state is implemented” Dr Ibrahim said.
In spite of the effects of COVID -19, women are still sharing testimonies of the benefits of Family Planning programmes to their family lives.
A business woman and a mother of two, Mrs Olabimpe Idogbe said she has been able to space her two children with the help of Family planning services she accessed at Police Clinic in Lafia.
“When I gave birth to my first child, I and my husband went to Police Clinic where i was given the three month injection. I later changed to the pills , where of was given 30 tablets of the pills to take for one month.
“It worked for me and helped me to space my children because I have given birth to my second children with three years age gap between them” Mr Idogbe said.
She however appealed to the government to make all family planning programmes free to enable women access the services even as she called for more awareness on the benefits especially at the grassroots.
Another , a mother of three , Mrs Ifeoma Okonkwo said she was into the natural family planning and it has helped her to space her children.
“I have three children, the first is 11 years, the second is 7 years and the third is 3 year and I I advice women to go for planning programmes to enable them space their children” Mrs Okonkwo said.
She government to should assist in the provision of the commodities as well as consumables at no cost to women to enable them access the facilities.
On her part, the Executive Director of Family Health Care Foundation, Mrs Mary Ashenanye said the Coronavirus Pandemic has affected family planning programmes at her facility due to the stay at home order of the government.
“We only have few staff who come to work now due to COVID – 19, especially the unit on family planning because we know that some women are due for their family planning and they could come round to see if they can pick their commodity and go or give take their injections depending on the method and onlyv few of them came infact we can even count their numbers as they are not more than five since the outbreak of the virus” she said.
On the supply of consumables at the period of the lock down , Mrs Ashenanye said her foundation could not supply to neighboring states such as Benue, Taraba and Plateau states due to the restriction orders by various state governments to contain the spread of disease.
Mrs Ashenanye commended the Federal and Nasarawa State Governments as well as donor agencies for partnering with them in the supply of commodities and consumables ,saying that with their support family planning services are now given free of charge in most facilities across the state.
She however called on both the Federal and state governments to provide palliatives to the less privileged to help cushion the effects of lockdown in some parts of the country.

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