Studies have shown that there are strong relationships between exposure to media messages on FP and uptake of services. Current data on contraceptive uptake in Nigeria is unimpressive. According to NDHS 2018, Nigeria has a low modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) of 12%, which is below the sub-Saharan average of 24%.
Currently, of the estimated 42 million women of reproductive age, only 14% use a modern contraceptive. Whereas about 10.6 million women who have a need for FP but do not have access to modern contraceptives with the highest unmet need for family planning recorded in South-South (28%), South West (18%), and lowest in the North West (14%), South-east (11%). PPFN is keying into the power and influence of the media and journalists to create awareness and engage in advocacy on Family Planning and consequently increase the availability and uptake of contraceptives.
Despite the high level of awareness but, low uptake, and existing myths and misconceptions around contraceptive methods, huge financing gaps exist between where we are and where we ought to be. Approximately US$600 million was required to meet the FP 2020 CPR target of 27% by 2030. But, Nigeria could not achieve that due to issues arising from the unavailability of sufficient financial resources and competing government priorities. We also find that there have been inconsistencies year after year in the national budgetary allocations for FP commodities. For instance, only about NGN300 million was released for FP and contraceptive expenses in 2019, a considerable 90% reduction from NGN1.2 billion released in 2018.
Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria is working in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP) and the network of reproductive health journalists (NRHJN) to engage in Family Planning budget advocacy through the VOICES project. The network, in addition to creating awareness about Family Planning, can hold the government to account for commitments made and engage in high-level budget advocacy.
Hewlett VOICES project, led by Planned Parenthood Association in Ghana (PPAG), aims to amplify the voices of IPPF Member Associations (MAs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) by empowering and strengthening the quality and effectiveness of advocacy efforts for governments’ accountability on family planning and reproductive health issues. PPFN working with and set to train media advocates to track FP expenditure at the national and subnational level and using media platforms to advocate to the Ministry of Health at all levels, to increase investments in FP. In addition, the project will engage a consultant for the review of all relevant documents on the FP budgeting in Nigeria and develop an FP budget scorecard.
With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting even the strongest health sectors, more than ever, we need a stronger commitment from the Nigerian government to give FP commodities a separate budget line in the national budget and release such funds when due in order to ensure that commodities are available, especially for the poor, marginalized, underserved and socially excluded groups. We are aware that not meeting our FP targets will potentially lead to overpopulation, socio-political unrest, an increase in Maternal Mortality Rate & Neonatal Mortality Rate, and unsafe abortions. Universal access to quality FP services is also fundamental to realizing the rights and wellbeing of every woman, girl, and child, whilst ensuring they do not suffer the adverse health effect of complications.
Capacity building of journalists and strong partnerships with them can lead to better health outcomes and increased accountability of the government on their commitment and spending as regards Family Planning. This will ensure Universal access to quality FP services thereby contributing to the achievement of SDG 3.7 (Universal access to sexual and reproductive care, family planning, and education) by 2030.