FG, Partners Step up Strategy to Access Family Planning in Rural Areas

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Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners have begun implementing the approved Task-sharing and Task-shifting Policy for essential healthcare services which authorise lower cadres of health workers including Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) to administer implants and intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUCDS) other than Nurse and Midwives only.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stated this during the dissemination of reports from studies conducted in the two states- Kaduna and Ondo on the trial programme.

Adewole in a statement said the numbers of Community Health Extension Workers outnumber the Nurses working in the Primary Healthcare Centrss in the rural areas.

According to him, there is a great need to provide family planning service to the women in the rural areas.

He said that having selected Kaduna and Ondo as pilot states to kick-start the programme, the ministry supported by Marie Stopes International Nigeria and other partners trained Community Health Extension Workers in the two states to insert and remove implants and IUCDs contraceptives in women who require the services in rural areas.

The minister said that one of the major barriers to accessing family planning in Nigeria is a shortage and inequitable distribution of the appropriate cadres of the health workforce to deliver healthcare services where they are most needed.

“There is shortage of virtually all the cadres of healthcare workers resulting in poor utilisation of many of our health facilities for essential services,” he said.

He added that the development of National Task-sharing and Task-shifting policy was aimed at increasing access to services such as family planning in Nigeria.

Adewole said that the ministry has approved the National Task-Shifting and Task-sharing policy for essential healthcare services in Nigeria in October 2014 as a key step to address the problem of health workforce shortage with anticipated adaptation and implementation at all levels of the national health system.

“Let me reiterate that the National Task-Shifting and Task-Sharing policy was not designed to take away task from any professional group but rather to make the best use of the cadres of staff currently employed and deployed to health facilities across the country.” Adewole noted

In his remarks the Country Director, Marie Stopes Nigeria, Pharm. Effiong E. Effiong, said that Marie Stope Nigeria had supported Federal Ministry of Health and the State Ministries of Health in capacity building of CHEWs to implement the Task-sharing and Task-shifting policy in the two states.

He said that the study evaluated whether CHEWs could insert implants and contraceptives services as safely as nurses and midwives can do and it had been proven that with adequate training CHEWs can performed as well as Nurses and Midwives.