From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
As the campaign on the use of contraceptives and Family Planning (FP) continues with myth and misconceptions in Gombe, the hard-bitten cost of living has been identified as a major driver of the momentum that was recently gained in the state.
According to officials, the campaign which is popularly known as child spacing in the state had been hindered by religious misconceptions and cultural beliefs. However, a change in its acceptability was recently experienced as it seems to gradually become a friend of many families and other residents.
Daily Sun gathered that its acceptability has been on the increase lately and that there was a sharp increase in demand for the services among Women of bearing age.
A look at the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) of the state, as highlighted by the 2018 edition of the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) shows that the campaign was succeeded in the area of demand creation and that the state was walking towards achieving the 22 per cent CPR targets of 2020.
Chairman of an Advocacy Working Group (AWG) that was set up to champion advocacy and the campaign on child spacing in Gombe State, Malam Alhassan Yaya, disclosed that the state CPR had moved from four per cent to 17 per cent between 2013 and 2018.
He attributed the triumphs of the program to the work of stakeholders such as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), the Media and other groups working on sensitization and awareness creation.
In an interview with Daily Sun, Malam Yahya explained that the campaign was given priority by his group because “the child spacing is a sure way of reducing maternal mortality by 40%. Our sensitization and advocacy were mainly on the need for the state to adopt the program and for families to subscribed”.
However, while the AWG was celebrating successes recorded in the state, Mrs Naomi Haruna an official of the Gombe town maternity shared her belief that more families were being coaxed by hardship and the cost of caring for a large family in the country to subscribe to the program.
Naomi who is in charge of the child spacing unit of the maternity stated this in an interview with Daily Sun. She said, “more women are now turning def to rumours earlier spread against child spacing in Gombe”.
She disclosed that her facility now receives over 200 women coming to subscribe for a method of child spacing every month. “The demand is too much now, more especially these days not like before when people don’t care about child spacing, but now the situation in the country has changed everything.
Whether you like it or not you just have to subscribe. Most of our clients are saying that they are doing it not because they want to, but because of the pains and hardships in the society. Most of the women coming for the service tell us during counselling that they just have to come for it to reduce the pressure of having a newborn or unintended pregnancy,” Naomi explained.
However, she disclosed that an inadequate supply of child spacing commodities and consumables was a major challenge in her facility. She said, “Women are now coming for child spacing just the way they are coming for immunization of their newborn babies and the growing demand is making us going out-of-stock of the commodities and that makes us send them to go and buy the commodities which were supposed to be free”.
The Chairman of the AWG had noted that the improvement being recorded in the number of women subscribing on daily basis has opened up more challenges for the state, “this is because the government will need to do more in providing the needed commodities and consumables for smooth running of the program”.
He explained that his team was aware of the effort of the state in adopting the program by way of creating a budget line for its implementation, however, he called for the release of budgeted funds. Malam Alhassan sai, “We must commend the state government for this because it shows that the government is ready to spend on the program. But I think we should work on the issue of release of the budgeted funds”.
On his part, the Gombe State Commissioner of Health, Dr Habu Dahiru assured that the government was aware of the increase in demand and that they were working on bridging the gaps. He told Daily Sun in Gombe that the state working in collaboration with The Challenge Initiative (TCI) and other donor agencies to provide the needed environment, manpower and commodities for the smooth running of the program.
“A budget-line has been created and we have set aside a designated place for child spacing services in all our health facilities and with the help of TCI and others we have been providing the commodities, so now we will be embarking on a supportive supervision of the services providers to further strengthen the service,” Dr Habu said.
He added that the ministry had identified a break in communication between the stores and the health care providers as a source of stock-out in some facilities as he assured that the challenges would soon be addressed.