By Simeon Christian Chukwu
As Nigeria continue the family planning journey to 2030 and to fully harness the opportunities ahead, stakeholders and all the major players in the family planning space gathered at the 7th Nigeria Family Planning Conference (NFPC) 2022 to reflect on the journey so far and evaluate the journey ahead.
The conference which held from 14th – 16th December 2022 at Sandaralia Hotel, Abuja, hosted about 350 participants and this is about 10% of the entire population that participated at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) held in Pataya, Thailand 2022. Delegates had the opportunity to share the amazing and brilliant innovations they have been doing to keep driving family planning in Nigeria. Top of the list of innovations is using digital companions to drive family planning services and uptake in Nigeria and organizations like Society for Family Health (SFH) is at the forefront of this. There were also very pragmatic approaches adopted by some state governments to ensure that every netizen is onboard the family planning journey to 2030.
As is the standard practice, there were exhibition stands for organizations and brands to host delegates and also market their products and services. Organizations like Society for Family Health (SFH); Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI); MARIE STOPES NIGERIA (MSION); Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN); The Challenge Initiative (TCI) amongst others, were all fully present at the conference. Delegates had the opportunity to stop-by the exhibition boots of the different organizations who have been at the forefront of driving this FP journey to learn more about their implementation strategies and seek opportunities for collaboration.
The journey ahead for Nigeria shows that there are opportunities ahead but how well Nigeria will be able to harness the potentials remains a nut to crack. Nigeria has over 211.4million people (according to the World Bank 2021 report) and still growing at 2.5% annually, the country is already grappling with managing its entire population. Regarded as the poverty capital of the world yet with a huge population with potentials, the country as whole is not harnessing this to its advantage. Rather, the country is losing some of its workforce and population to other countries as people continue to struggle for survival amidst the astounding resources that are not available or accessible.
If Nigeria is to travel far in its family planning journey to 2030 and beyond, concerted efforts must be taken by all and sundry particularly the federal and state governments. As implementing organizations, partners and donors are not resting on their oars, government need to be jolted back to its responsibilities by financing family planning programmes through the counterpart funding. As donor support and focus is increasing shifting away and depleting, the Nigerian government needs to start prioritizing specific funding for family planning. If government doesn’t take up its responsibility, all the efforts of previous years may go to waste and the journey to 2030 may be longer than the journey to Damascus.
Snippets from the 7th Nigeria Family Planning Conference
SFH Relentless Efforts to Ensure Contraceptives Availability and Accessibility for Adolescents and Young Persons
The Society for Family Health (SFH) has continued to ensure the availability of contraceptives and family planning services across 27 states in its almost 40 years of existence. This was the revelation was made by Mrs Joy Obiobala at the 7th Nigeria Family Planning Conference 2022 during the Youth Pre-Conference Activity themed: Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: The path to 2030. It was revealed that SFH has reached over 187,830 adolescents and young persons with contraceptive services while also reaching 467,546 with sexual and reproductive health messaging. The organization pledged to continue to accelerate the availability of contraceptive services for AYPs through its innovative programmes. This commitment was made by the Managing Director Dr Omokhudu Idogho represented by Mr Simeon Christian Chukwu at the Youth Pre-Conference. He emphasized that SFH has been at the forefront of providing contraceptive services for young people and will continue to champion this cause as the organization works towards ensuring “Healthy Lives for All”
Gombe State in the Spotlight for Leading the Fray for State Government Funding for Family Planning
During the NFPC, Gombe state shone like a million stars as they were put in the spotlight due to the huge commitments that the state government has made in financing family planning throughout the state. Speaking at the conference was Mrs Sambo Omar who fielded questions as a panelist at the conference following the report that Gombe state government has invested massively into family planning. Stakeholders and delegates sought to know the strategy behind such effort and she responded by stating that it was a product of hard work and determination from the state government to ensure that the state becomes a model for other state in financing family planning programmes in the state. Gombe state in 2018, funded family planning to the tune of $65,000 and has continued to show relentlessness with subsequent fundings.
USAID Prioritizing Funding 5 States in Nigeria on Family Planning
The United States Agency for International Development has revealed Bauchi, Ebonyi, FCT, Kebbi and Sokoto states as their top priority states for family planning procurement needs in 2022. This was disclosed during the opening ceremony of the 7th Nigeria Family Planning Conference by Anne Patterson. He said the agency has its parameters for selecting the five states which ranges from population growth, government’s commitment and receptibility etc., Bauchi state ranks highest with $1,245,300 while FCT ranked the least with $390,726.
Nigeria Harnessing her Population Growth in Opposite Direction – Andoma of Doma
Another major highlight was the very eclectic message from the very vocal and eloquent Chairman of the opening ceremony, HRH Alhaji Ahmadu Aliyu Oga Onawo, Andoma of Doma, he took a historical overview of man and the instructions to him from his creator adding that it was the deviation of man from nature’s instruction that birthed a lot of confusion around the world. He cited how Nigeria has not properly harnessed the population growth of its teeming youth and how the western countries are now poaching its best away. He concluded his eloquent speech by admonishing the government to exploit the potentials that Nigerians are endowed with and have a master plan for its population – because “God will ask everyone how he/she has been able to cater for the few seeds he has blessed them with”.
Photos from NFPC
Christian is a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Coordinator at Society for Family Health