Nigeria: Self-Care – Nigeria launches guidelines to improve sexual and reproductive health

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To ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services in the country, the Nigerian government has launched a National Personal Care Directive.

The guideline was launched Thursday alongside the Family Planning 2030 documents and several other policy documents adopted by the country in 2020.

Speaking at the launch, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said the self-care initiative is needed due to the country’s rapidly growing population.

Mr Ehanire said the new guidelines will provide ways to reduce the pressure on health facilities to deliver quality care.

He said communities and individuals are supported and trained in self-care to reduce the burden of care for health workers.

He explained that the documents will provide guidance on the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and local government areas (LGAs) as well as the private sector in creating an enabling environment for the provision of self-care services in the country.

Family planning 2030

Meanwhile, Mr. Ehanire said the Family Planning (FP) 2030 commitment and other documents demonstrate Nigeria’s efforts to increase access to quality health services.

He said that although the country has made some improvements in FP services, there is still a huge gap in unmet need for contraceptives.

He said the government was determined to fill the gaps.

He said, “We are aggressively stepping up our actions and efforts, especially at sub-national levels to steer the trend in the right direction and close the gaps.

“Efforts are underway to mobilize additional domestic resources and harness the potentials existing within our large but young population through concerted and coordinated efforts of multi-sector actors in health, women’s affairs, education and gainful employment, including the humanitarian crisis such as insecurity has had a negative impact on the lives of girls and adolescents.”

Director of the Federal Ministry of Health’s Family Health Department, Salma Kolo, said the overall goal of the new guidelines is to improve the health and well-being of women, girls and adolescents.

Ms. Kolo said the focus was on sexual and reproductive, maternal and newborn health, as well as adolescent health.

She lamented the high death rates recorded among women and children in the country.

“In a year, we record over a million children under five dying from preventable causes, and then we have huge numbers of women dying every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related issues.

“So the only way to stop this is to ensure standard and qualified human resources in the facilities to deliver the services,” she said.

She noted that family planning is a game changer and a lifeline for society.

“We are not saying that women should not have children but at least they should space their children, minimum of two years and even more.

“It will reduce child mortality and mothers will regain their health,” she said.

Welcome to development

Speaking at the launch, PATH/JSI Access Collaborative National Coordinator Adewole Adefalu said self-care empowers individuals and communities to make decisions for themselves about their health and to reduce the burden of the influx of patients in health facilities.

“It is yet another milestone for us to see self-care initiated and attested to by various stakeholders, especially with state stakeholders who will be the implementers of the directive.

“As long as there is political will and with the availability of self-care products like Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate Subcutaneous (DMPA-SC), malaria and HIV self-test kits as well as ‘pregnancy self-test, we’ve seen people start to take ownership, positioning them to reap the benefits of self-awareness,’ he said.

In her remarks, the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria Country Coordinator, Christy Asala, explained that the private sector engagement strategy creates the model for improving access through a total market for family planning.

Ms Asala said the need for personal care has come into sharper focus during the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We are delighted that the government has taken this laudable step to plan how to engage this sector,” she said.

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