Most Nigerian women frequent local chemists, others


Vendors of patented and proprietary medicines (PPMVs), drugstores and drugstores are the preferred outlets for 62% of Nigerian women to access family planning services, a study found.

The federal government provides a budget of $ 4 million per year for the purchase of family planning products to be distributed to all public health facilities in the country.

In addition to the federal government’s gesture, some state governments are also complimenting the central government’s effort by providing a budget line for the purchase of family planning items to be provided free of charge to women of childbearing age.

But the study titled: “Consumer’s Market For Family Planning (CM4FP), Insight into Family Planning Supply and Demand from the Perspective of Consumers in Nigeria”, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by the Society for Family Health (SFH) in partnership with Population Services and the Federal Ministry of Health, has shown that 62 percent of Nigerian women have access to family planning services in pharmacies, PPMVs, pharmacies or pharmacies where they pay cash. huge and avoid public health facilities that offer these services at little or no cost.

The study tested the feasibility and utility of a range of innovative approaches to collect information on the overall family planning market in selected, predominantly urban areas in Lagos, Kaduna, Abia states. and Niger.

During the research period, a total of 4,729 interviews were conducted with women of reproductive age (18-49) and 672 outlets were audited for family planning products and services. Of the 672 outlets, the study found that nine percent of women surveyed went to hospitals to access family planning services, four percent went to primary health care centers, three percent went to visited private clinics and 62 of these women had access to family planning services at pharmacies and PPMVs.

In terms of cost, the study found that these women pay up to N3,500 to access family planning products such as implants in pharmacies, which are provided at N1,000 in public hospitals.

Another area highlighted by the study is that many women bypassed their nearest outlets to obtain family planning services from people farthest from their homes. Some travel more than three kilometers to access family planning services.

Experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP on the issue linked the behavior of women to seeking privacy and confidentiality.

According to Dr.Anthony Nwala, manager of the reproductive health and family planning practice area of ​​SFH, the study provides insight into the behavioral pattern of women in terms of where and how they access family planning methods and services. .

For example, Nwala said most women go as far as one kilometer to 1.8 kilometers from their homes to buy family planning commodities, when there are public and private hospitals around them, adding that the study also showed that they preferred to bypass them and go further.

He said: “We know that the issue of privacy and confidentiality plays a big role here. The bias of family planning providers can be a problem here. A woman will not leave you if she knows her information is safe with you, and this can only be ensured through training and retraining of family planning providers.

Uwala, however, urged the government to improve the capacity of family planning providers on the principle of counseling, privacy and confidentiality. “With this, women will have confidence in the health facilities closest to them and it will help them save money that they would have used to travel to more distant health facilities or pharmacies and ensure that they do not miss their appointment, otherwise, all the essence of family planning would be lost, ”added the reproductive health expert.

Federal Ministry of Health Director of Reproductive Health Dr Kayode Afolabi told LEADERSHIP that the study provided ample evidence that can inform practice and improve women’s and girls’ access to planning services. family in the country.

“The quality of care is strongly emphasized in the context of the conclusions of this study. Women seek quality services and this means that we must, on an ongoing basis, build the capacity of family planning service providers, train them and retrain them on the need to be non-biased and on confidentiality so that they are able to provide quality services.

“Additionally, geographic barriers are one reason there might be a barrier to accessing family planning. At the ministry, we are working diligently to ensure that service delivery points are available across the country, so that women can access family planning services at their convenience, ”he added.

The director said the specific budget for purchasing family planning commodities on an annual basis is $ 4 million. “When combined with donor funding, the family planning basket is $ 12 million, but what is needed to provide family planning services to women in need is $ 24 million, we have. therefore still a deficit of $ 12 million.

“As government, donors and state governments ensure that family planning commodities are available in public health facilities, we need to ensure that women have access to them at their convenience and at no cost. This is the reason why we must continue to train and retrain health workers, so that more women have confidence in our various public hospitals, ”Afolabi said.

Women tend to travel miles to access family planning services at facilities that provide quality services, Lagos State Ministry of Health Reproductive Health Coordinator Dr Victoria Omoera said. and pledged that the state government will continue to train and build family planning capacity. suppliers.

“In October, we just completed training for the last group of family planning providers. We have trained more than 120 family planning providers, both public and private, such as pharmacies and PPMVs, as approximately 60% of women in Lagos access family planning services from private providers. We know the prejudices of family planning providers are still there, but with training and retraining we will overcome this, ”Omoera said.

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