Towards improved Child Birth Spacing Services in Kano

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As part of the civil society’s support to the Kano State Government on improving Child Birth Spacing (CBS) services and commodities, the Kano State-Led Accountability Mechanism (KanSLAM), recently hosted a three-day workshop for the development of the 2021 Kano State Costed CBS Work Plan. The activity was supported by the Women’s Integrated Services for Health (WISH) Programme, funded by UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). 

 

 

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has an estimated population of about 200 million people. Nigeria also has a high population growth rate, notwithstanding a high level of infant mortality which stands at about 104 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Additionally, maternal mortality in Nigeria stands at approximately 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The major cause of Nigeria’s high population growth rate is unavailability or lack of access to Family Planning or rather Child Birth Spacing (CBS) services and commodities, amongst others. The implication of this growth is the low quality of life available to the country’s inhabitants due to competition over its limited resources. The negative consequences of these unfettered population bulge are clearly evident in the form of the huge population of Nigerian children that are chronically malnourished or out-of-school. 

Policies which address high population growth such as subsidized CBS services have proven to be potent in addressing the challenge of population bulge across many developing countries. Kano, which is arguably the most populous state in Nigeria also has one of the highest birth, child, and maternal mortality rates in the country. Despite varied efforts by the government and development partners working to address the population growth and subsequently reduce child and maternal mortality rates, a lot still remains to be done to achieve significant results in Kano. 

As part of efforts by the civil society in support of the Kano State Government to improve availability and accessibility of CBS and Reproductive Health (RH) services and commodities, the Kano State-Led Accountability Mechanism (KanSLAM), recently hosted a three-day workshop for the development of the 2021 Kano State Costed CBS Work Plan, which seeks to consolidate the state government’s efforts on CBS. The activity was hosted with the support of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) funded Women’s Integrated Services for Health (WISH) Programme.

KanSLAM is a coalition of civic and media organisations as well as relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) working across different aspects of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) as well as Human Capital Development (HCD) in Kano state. On the other hand, WISH is FCDO’s flagship programme supporting the scale up of integrated sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services in countries across Africa and Asia.

“CBS is a subset of reproductive health and based on the current data in Kano, we are not doing very well because of unavailability of commodities in the state. Budgetary allocation for CBS is also low, amidst the few number of health workers providing CBS services in the state. Bearing that in mind, we decided to organize this workshop with support from WISH to enable us to scale up plans for 2021 with the main goal of achieving more results this year,” said Maimuna Yakubu, the co-chair of KanSLAM while speaking during the three-day workshop.

While speaking on how the workplan will be implemented, the KanSLAM co-chair said: “The work plan will focus on various issues particularly the need for more budgetary allocation and release of funds, increasing availability and accessibility to CBS services and service providers, among others. We are basically identifying strategies for engaging the government so that funding can be increased, alongside an increment in the capacity and scope of services in Kano. 

“We also wish to engage other partners who are into RH, so as to secure commodities and make them readily available at the Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs). We plan to have a wider engagement with various media outlets in the state so that the people will acquire adequate knowledge and understanding of where to get commodities as well as sensitizing them on the benefits of effectively practicing CBS,” she said. 

While also speaking at the workshop, Dr. Nafisa Abdu, the evidence and accountability advisor at the Women’s Integrated Services for Health (WISH) Programme, described access to CBS commodities and services as very important issue in society hence WISH’s support for the development of a CBS work plan in Kano. “The current engagements with KanSLAM aim to consolidate on our efforts so as to have a roadmap for 2021 towards strengthening Child Birth Spacing service delivery in the state. Basically, our focus is on budgetary allocation and releases for CBS.”

“There are a lot of bureaucracies and bottlenecks within government in relation to CBS, which is why we have brought officials from the government to critically address these issues. We want to ensure improved funding and also releases for their intended purpose. Many women pass through a lot before they can access Child Birth Spacing commodities. Some even pay money to purchase those commodities which should have been given to them free of charge,” she said.

Dr Abdu therefore said WISH’s partnership with KanSLAM would ensure that a roadmap in line with the state’s CBS work plan was developed to foster synergy and guarantee judicious utilization of funding for CBS in Kano state. Hassan Gama, a member of KanSLAM, who was one of the attendees at the workshop said the major challenge in Kano was getting the masses to accept CBS adding that accepting CBS services would allow the people the opportunity to have healthy families and live a quality life.

“We have developed a costed work plan which will ensure improved CBS services in the state. That is dependent on the accessibility of the CBS commodities to the common people. With the work plan in place, the masses at the grassroots would be directly impacted and that will translate to improvement in the quality of their life. This work plan will also address the challenge of out-of-pocket expenses for CBS commodities among women. Achieving the ideas in the framework will have a direct impact on the lives of the masses,” Gama added. 

According to USAID, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaigns are effective in changing people’s attitudes towards FP and CBS and accordingly, increasing the use of contraceptives in Nigeria. That is to say FP or rather CBS messages relayed through the mass media do influence contraceptive behaviors of the people. Nafisa Murtala, a development journalist and chair of KanSLAM’s Knowledge Management and Communication Committee – which is made up of various media organizations – assured of her committee’s commitment towards ensuring the media makes CBS a priority in Kano.

The costed work plan seeks to strengthen access and release of funds meant for Child Birth Spacing and Reproductive Health so as to consolidate on the Kano state government’s existing plans on CBS. It would accordingly ensure improvement in the availability and accessibility of CBS services and commodities among the populace of Kano. This will subsequently ensure healthier families, reduce the economic and emotional burden of parenthood and as a result improve the quality of life of the citizens of the state.

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