Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate
By Paul Obi
Even as the controversy over family planning rages on, the Federal Government has approved the sum of $11.5 million for the procurement of family planning commodities in Nigeria.
The funds which would be for the purchase of condoms, implant and other necessities were in fulfilment of government’s determination to reduce maternal mortality in the country.
The Director of Family Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, stated this Thursday in Abuja, at the 47th National Council Meeting (NCM) of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria
She said: “The Federal Government along with the global partners is also committed to reducing maternal mortality rate in the country. You know our maternal mortality rate has not been very good.
“Last year in order to reduce maternal mortality rate, the Federal Government proclaimed that reproductive health commodities and family planning commodities like condoms and implant to be free. Now that it is free, people will have to be rushing it.
“So the government along with the partners made a forecast as to what we need in the country and contributed $3 million in 2011 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which we implemented. But this year, globally, on July 11 to be precise, in London, there was a family planning summit organised by DFID and other partners to increase the commitment of governments all over the world to family planning.
“Nigeria came in a big way and Mr. President, through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, announced the Federal Government’s commitment to the world with an additional $8.3 million reproductive health commodities which of course.”
Okoeguale added that although maternal mortality in Nigeria has reduced, “we can’t tell of the reduction rate not until we do the National Demographic Health Survey next year.”
She further stated that: “For now, our maternal mortality rate is 545 per 100,000 live births and you will agree with me that it is very high and nothing to be proud of. We have been joining our very good development partners, namely: UNFPA, DFID, USIS, USAID and some other partners.
“We are appealing to states to key in because health is on the concurrent list. The Federal Government has a plan and policy but we cannot force states to key in. We can only advocate for them; they make requests to us as regards what they need but it is for them to ensure that these commodities reach the grassroots.
“For now, the partners are also supporting us with transport and other logistics especially getting the commodities to the rural and riverine areas. But for how long? That is why we are appealing to the states that they should have a budget line for planning.
“From the records we have, some states do not have budget line for family planning because of other priorities. I don’t have the statistics but I do know that some states have not been able to create a budget line for family planning and we are calling on them to do so in earnest.
“This year, we will be having a conference on maternal new born and health commodities. We will also use the forum to appeal to states to use the forum appeal to states to create a budget line.”
Also speaking, the outgoing President of PPFN, Mrs. Lami Buba, identified how to stem the rate of staff attrition and galvanize staff moral as one of the challenges of the federation.
Buba maintained that the federation will adopt a model that will assist the federation in keeping to its mandate as well as contribute its quota in improving better healthcare in the country.