Hope Rises for Better Reproductive Health

Health Minister, Prof Isaac Adewole

Sekinah Lawal/

The Challenge Initiative (TCI), Nigeria, has signed a Commitment Letter to address reproductive health needs of urban poor with five state governments including Ogun, Kano, Delta, Bauchi and Niger states.

TCI, implemented globally by the Gates Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in Nigeria by the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programs (JHUCCP), signed to implement The Challenge Fund Catalytic Grant after a demand-driven self selection process.

NewsmakersNG learnt that the grant is aimed at providing technical and financial assistance to the states in implementing successful high impact Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) family planning proven interventions.

NURHI is expected to work with the state government through the State Ministry of Health, Primary Healthcare Development Agency and other relevant departments and agencies of the states to implement the grant with those executing it and TCI providing light touch technical support.

The award will fund planned activities targeted at ensuring improved social norms in favour of family planning; expanded and continuous availability of modern contraceptives; improved Quality of Contraceptive Care (Family Planning Services) as well as documenting improvements in supply, all aimed at improving uptake of Family Planning services among under-served urban poor, using the NURHI evidence-based, high impact approach.

The self-selected states, through the Ministry of Health and the benefitting Local Government Areas have committed to providing enabling environment and leadership to the successful implementation of the proposed activities through an efficient, cost effective and result oriented manner. This “business unusual” model of grant strengthens sustainability by warranting states to fulfil their commitment for counterpart financing and in-kind resources to accomplish approved work plans.

Some of the women in a chat with NewsmakersNG expressed the hope that the great initiative will bring the so much desired succour to them and the society at large.

“The Challenge Initiative is built on the success of the pioneering Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) which contributed to increase CPR (average of 11.5 percentage points) in six cities (FCT, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna, Benin, and Zaria). The Challenge Initiative would encourage states to invest resources in family and implement proven strategies and model such as NURHI to contribute to the achievement of the national family planning goal of 36 per cent mCPR by 2018.

“The Challenge Initiative offers a unique approach because interested Nigerian cities self-select to participate in the Initiative and bring their resources to the table in order to leverage significant resources and be able to provide high quality family planning and reproductive health services to those in need,” Mojisola Odeku, the Portfolio Director of JHUCCP Nigeria country projects, said.

With the Challenge Initiative, this set of grantees will be able to meet the growing demand for voluntary family planning, particularly among the urban poor, and break the cycle of poverty. Family planning and reproductive health gives women, families, and communities a brighter future.

“The Challenge Initiative (TCI) Nigeria will continue to provide…to adapt the NURHI model or any slice of the model for change,” said Dr. Victor Igharo, Program Manager of The Challenge Initiative Nigeria.

For states to achieve the National 36 per cent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) 2018 target, they need robust plan to improve access to voluntary Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing – a key component of reproductive health that has proven to have transformative impacts on communities and countries to promote health and prosperity.

Family planning information and services reduce maternal mortality by 30 per cent, while giving women, men, couples and young people the opportunity to choose whether and when to have a child, space births, and prevent unintended pregnancy – unlocking their future opportunities and improving their overall quality of life.

Nigeria has demonstrated its commitment to family planning with the National Blueprint for Family Planning in 2014, which aims to achieve a National CPR of 36 per cent by 2018, to reposition the Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing programme on its investment agenda and to ensure that all women of reproductive age (15-49 years of age) have unhindered access to modern family planning/child birth spacing methods of their choice. With the challenge fund, these states are set to ensure the necessary shift in Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing programming at the structural, service and community levels.

The Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Adewole during the November 2016 national family planning conference in Abuja made a bold commitment to family planning. He said: “Our commitment is that in spite of the downturn in the economy, we would continue to meet all our obligations… to put $3million per year and for 2017 we will increase it to USD$4 million.”