Despite the Lagos State government’s effort in providing Family Planning (FP) services at the state owned health facilities, only very few women are utilizing the services- hence the rise in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and maternal deaths.
Evidence from The 2014/2015 Lagos State Maternal and Newborn Health Service Delivery scorecard, shows that only two per cent of women of reproductive age use modern contraception in the state. According to the scorecard developed by Lagos State Accountability for Maternal and Newborn Health (LASAM) with support from Mamaye, Lagos state has made insufficient progress in the use of modern family planning methods.
A similar survey carried out in 2014 by the National Population Commission and ICF International on family planning consumption in Lagos State shows that the percentage of married women using contraception has decreased from 49.6 to 48.3 per cent.
Based on this, The Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), has begun training The Ward Health Committees (WHC) Lagos State on sensitization of communities about child spacing and the need to access family planning services at the PHCs.
During the sensitization forum held at Sango PHC Pen Cinema, Agege, some of the WHC Chairperson explained to National Mirror, the challenges affecting consumption of family planning services at the PHCs.
The WHC Chairman Iloro PHC, Agege, Elder Emmanuel Adekoya, said there is still low acceptance of modern family planning methods at Agege community. “many of the people do not yet see the need for modern family planning methods so there is need for more advocacy and teaching. It is also necessary to upgrade the health facilities so that better service will be delivered, which is what NURHI is currently doing and we have also tried to support this. Before, the generators and boreholes at the PHC were not working but now we have repaired it”, he said.
For Dopemu community, Chairman WHC Dopemu PHC, Hon. Johnson Olasunkomito, explained that there are complains about health workers’ attitude. According to him; “Most FP clients complain about attitude of health workers. They say they are not friendly enough, while others are not on ground when clients visit. I think there is need to educate health workers on this. We also have issue of insufficient consumables but we try to solve this by engaging the LG Chairmen to provide the consumables. One of the challenges is that there is no LG Chairman on ground now, what we have are sole administrators and they have limitations to what they can do. But we have engaged them and they have promised to do something”.
The WHC Chairperson Sango PHC, Mrs Fausat king, said there is still problem of insufficient consumables at the PHC. “Sometimes the consumables may not be available. For about two or three days now the PHC has been writing me that the cotton wools and Dettol are not available and I have assured them that the WHC will do something about that. Some times the cost of these commodities hinder people from accessing the facilities. Also, people are still ignorant about modern family planning methods. they believe more in herbal remedies but now we are trying to convince them to embrace modern family planning”, she noted.
Also in agreement, WHC Chairman Alapere ketu PHC, Mr. Olusegun Adeboye, said there is need to increase awareness on family planning benefits. “there is still lots of myths surrounding family planning. We try to mobilize people to use the PHC and realize the importance of taking care of their health, the need to space their children”, he said.
Explaining the rationale behind the meeting with the WHC Chairmen, the Lagos State Team leader NURHI, Dr Edun Omasanjuwa, said The WHC will assists in mobilizing more people to use the PHC and access FP service. “With these outreaches, we are looking at increasing uptake of family planning in Lagos State from the current contraceptive rate of 48 per cent to 74 per cent by 2018. This will take a lot of work, but we know we will get there. Since our intervention in mid-April this year, there has been a 20 per cent increase in FP uptakes”, Dr. Omosanjuwa added.
He said people need to be more aware of the benefits of Family Planning; “Research has shown that Family Planning saves lives and reduces maternal deaths by up to 40 per cent. So if ten women were to die as a result of pregnancy, Family Planning can save three to four of those women”.
He further enjoined religious leaders to embrace family planning as it is good for the entire society and not just women.
Meanwhile, The Lagos State Accountability for Maternal and Newborn Health (LASAM) has called on Lagos State government to increase awareness on the benefits of family planning uptakes. They also called for budget line to be created for consumables.