Private Sector Collaboration key to Improving Access to Family Planning in Nigeria
The United Nations, as part of its Sustainable Development Goals, set a global target to improve universal access to family planning services and commodities in a bid to address sexual and reproductive health issues.
Family planning provides benefits for women, children and the community including prevention of pregnancy and childbirth-related risks, reducing the incidence of child and maternal mortality, reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies, slowing down population growth, and improving socio-economic status for families amongst others.
In Nigeria, there is high unmet need for these services which needs to be addressed to further strengthen the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and also push the country closer to achieving the targets of the SDGs.
Private sector collaboration is key to achieving this and many private sector organizations are partnering with the government across various levels to address this challenge. One of such is Medchain Solutions, an indigenous pharmaceutical and medical services and logistics organization.
Recently, its co-founder, Pharmacist Otuto Amarauche Chukwu, in conjunction with Professor Maxwell Adibe, the Head of Department Clinical Pharmacy, University of Nigeria Nsukka won and implemented a 22,000 US Dollar grant aimed at improving access to family planning commodities in Nigeria.
The grant which was awarded by the Africa Resource Centre, South Africa (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) was used to assess challenges in the last mile distribution of family planning commodities in Kano State.
This study, which was done with support and collaboration of the Kano State Government through its Ministry of Health identified key findings including frequent stock out of commodities, infrastructure deficiencies including transportation and distribution infrastructure, human resource shortages, lack of capacity on supply chain management functions, religious and socio-cultural issues amongst others.
Findings from the study raised very salient policy issues that can help improve access to family planning commodities within the state as well as in other states of the federation, if contextualized and applied accordingly.
Top of these policy issues include the need to decentralize family planning commodity supply chains and creating a special fund for family planning commodity and service needs, amongst others.
Filling the gap in the unmet need for family planning services is key for Nigeria to reach the SDGs target and also reap the benefits that providing these services offer. Hence it is important for government, across all levels, to continue to partner the private sector and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen family planning services delivery and uphold the sexual and reproductive health rights of women.
Otuto Amarauche Chukwu
Picture: Prof. Maxwell Adibe and Pharm. Otuto A. Chukwu after a research presentation meeting with stakeholders from Kano State Ministry of Health