From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A total of 53,583 women in Delta State took up family planning for the first time in 2019, the Coordinator of Reproductive Health and Family Planning in the state, Dr Christian Tesola, has revealed.
Dr Tesola, who made this known in Asaba during a chat with health reporters, also disclosed that the state government has released N20 million for family planning services.
Explaining that the recently released fund was in the 2020 budget line, Dr Tesola noted that it boost the purchase of consumables which became inadequate in most healthcare centres across the state in 2020.
He noted that the various partners and advocacy groups advocated for a dedicated budget line for FP and had pushed and succeeded in securing a budgetary provision in 2018 and in 2019.
‘But the budgets were not released for 2018 and 2019. But in 2020, the sum of N20 million was budgeted and it has been released to boost family planning activities in the state.
‘In 2019, we have 53, 583 women new acceptors of FP in the state.
‘With the budget release, issues of consumables among other services remain free for up takers as each facility in the state will be adequately provided for,’ Tesola said.
He lauded the government for deeming it right to release the funds while thanking partners and the media for their continued advocacy to ensure that people access the services to plan their families.
The Director of Public Health, Dr Philomena Okeowo, said sustaining the programme depended on counterpart funding.
She noted that the importance of family planning could not be overemphasized, adding that the present administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has zero-tolerance for maternal and under-five mortality which could be reduced through an adequate family planning application.
Okeowo said the present economic situation underscored the need for families to adopt family planning programme in the country to ensure good and healthy living.
‘So, for what His Excellency has done, we are grateful and one requirement for family planning in the state is that we must have counterpart funding,’ she said.
Mrs Nwanne Kalu, State Programme Coordinator, The Challenge Initiative (TCI), speaking on behave of partners, said the governor remained a champion for family planning in the state.
‘Before 2017, there was no budget line for FP in Delta. In 2018 because of the push by partners and other advocacy groups, a budget was provided and this is a realisation by the government that there was a need for budgeting for FP.
‘With the release of the N20 million for FP, it is the first time a budget line is being released by Delta Government.
‘The governor is not only a champion for FP but he has demonstrated his commitment for the programme by approving the release of the budget provision for FP in the state.
‘The partners are asking the governor to increase the vote for the programme because it has the capacity to impact other health programmes positively,’ Kalu said.
The Chairperson, Advocacy Core Group, Mrs Rachael Obodo-Obunseli, said it was a long journey to securing the release of the budget provision for FP programme in the state.
‘However, it is an achievement that we are able to secure a release of the fund for the programme.
‘We appreciate the media and all who made the release possible. But as a group, we are asking that government increase the budget line for FP in the state,’ she said.