Abia Moves to Start Budgetary Provisions for Family Planning  

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

Abia State government would in its next fiscal policy start making budgetary provisions for family planning with a subhead in the health budget to improve sexual reproductive health in the state.

This new thinking was triggered by the success recorded in the implementation of Delivering Innovation in Self-care(DISC 1.0) project, driven by the Society for Family Health(SFH).

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo, disclosed this in Umuahia at the state level dissemination meeting on the performance of the DISC 1.0 project, saying that zero budgeting for family planning would end.

“We’re advocating for the state to have (separate) allocation for family planning so that when partners leave at the end of their project, we can sustain it,” she said.

The project, funded by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation(CIFF), “aims to demonstrate that self-care, beginning with contraceptive self-injection, is a viable cornerstone of sexual reproductive health (SRH) care.”

Okoronkwo stated that the present Abia government placed a high premium on healthcare hence it gave 15 per cent allocation in its 2024 budget to health.

“We plan to achieve 90 per cent implementation,” she said, adding that “our governor is a health champion in every aspect.”

The Health Commissioner assured SFH of the government’s support in the implementation of its project in Abia, saying that “every (development) partner that shares our vision is important and is welcome in Abia.”

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary, Abia State Primary Health Care Development Agency(PHCDA), Dr. Kalu U. Kalu, underscored the need for family planning, saying that fertility rate in Abia and Nigeria in general is very high.

He thanked SFH for initiating the DISC project and expanding it to Abia, where it has helped in improving family planning uptake.

However, Kalu said that five local governments are not enough for the DISC project and pleaded with SFH to expand its coverage and facilities to rural areas because “our women are dying out of ignorance in the rural areas.”

The Managing Director of SFH, Dr. Omokhudu Idogho, in his address said that the organisation has expanded its operations from three to 15 states in Nigeria, which explained Abia’s inclusion.

The SFH MD, who was represented by the Chief Programme Officer, Dr Anthony Nwala, said that the enabling environment for the implementation of the DISC project in Abia “keeps getting better and better.”

He promised that “as long as SFH continues to do projects in Nigeria, we’ll continue to partner with Abia” to benefit from programmes that would improve the health of the people.

Earlier in her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Abia State Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeyinwa Uma-Kalu, advised married couples to take the issue of family planning seriously.

She said that pregnancy “must be planned” for with a space of upwards of two years in-between in order to protect the health of mothers and also to enable families cope with the prevailing harsh economic situation.

Uma-Kalu warned against using the “accidental discharge” syndrome as an excuse for unplanned pregnancy, saying that married couples should embrace family planning and choose any method suitable for them.

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