The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the use of Community Health Workers (CHEWs) in providing quality family planning information, commodities and injectables to their community.
The approval was to address shortfall of doctors and nurses in communities, especially the hard-to-reach areas. The low patronage of modern contraceptive commodities in the country has often been attributed to the shortfall.
Deputy Director, Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Monica Kerrigan said this at the just concluded second Nigeria Family Planning Conference themed: “Population and national development.”
The foundation, according to Kerrigan, applauds government’s effort to address unmet need for family planning in the country, by approving free commodities in public health facilities and a commitment of additional $8, 035, 000 yearly for reproductive health commodities among others.
She said Mrs. Gates, who had made family planning her top priority, and the foundation would “travel this journey with Nigeria to increase access and quality of family planning services, promote the right of women and girls to access commodities and determine the timing and spacing of their births.”
“Mr. and Mrs Gates and our foundation will be with you. And we will be opening a new office here in Nigeria by January 2013,” she said.
Kerrigan added that there was the need to create more awareness, adding that family planning commodity supply was as imperative their demand.
“We need to let women know that our contraceptives are safe, effective and when they come to our clinics, men and women would be appreciated for what they want to do.
“If we continue to do things the way we started in the past, we will never achieve new goals. Let couples be able to talk about family planning and let parents talk to their children about protection from HIV/AIDS, STDs and unwanted pregnancies,” she said.
National Programme Officer Reproductive Health, WHO Nigeria, Dr. Taiwo Oyelade said the world health body had approved and recommended CHEWs for community services.
He observed that the approval was a big boost that would bridge existing gap between unmet need of women in the communities and inadequate medical caregivers.
Chairman, Family Planning Action Group (FPAG), Prof. Oladapo Ladipo, who also cheered the approval said it was evident from presentations by different research groups at the conference that Nigeria was not providing appropriate access to family planning commodities, adding that the country need to multiply sites for access.
He noted that a pilot study done in Gombe State demonstrated that “if we change our approach by using the community-based distribution approach, using CHEWs that are available, we would get more commodities to the people that need them especially in hard to reach places than if we really on fixed facilities alone.”
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