On the eve of the London Summit on Family Planning, Tonte Ibraye, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance, Nigeria, talks about his expectations.
1. Tell me about the family planning situation in Nigeria
Our Federal Ministry of Health is committed to ensuring that all women in Nigeria have access to family planning services, and where possible they can access them for free. However the unmet need for contraception is still very high as there are a number of barriers for the women who need them to receive the services.
In Nigeria we have a problem with women getting the family planning commodities they want, as the Government at the State level has not budgeted for, or simply doesn’t have enough money for distribution to health centres and communities. The White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria is advocating for a specific line on distribution of family planning commodities to be included in state budgets to address this bottleneck.
We also have a lot of cultural and religious barriers that effect this, in some cases family planning can be seen as a ”western” intervention and not in line with their way of life. The White Ribbon Alliance in Nigeria recognises this as a major problem and has been working to raise awareness on the importance of this issue in communities and working with traditional and religious leaders to encourage their support and leadership.
The Government of Nigeria must provide a specific budget for family planning services and distribution across Nigeria. They must also work with civil society to sensitise communities about the benefits of family planning and to ensure it gets to the women who are most in need. Family planning is one of the most cost effective interventions for reducing maternal mortality.
The Government must provide a specific budget and work with civil society to sensitise people to ensure that services reach the people who need them. Family planning is a cost effective way of reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR).
2. What are your hopes for the Summit?
I have great hopes for the summit, it is a great opportunity for Governments to look at what progress they have made on this issue so far, share some of the challenges they have been facing and learn from others on successful approaches. It is also a great platform for Governments to make fresh commitments, which are clearly and urgently needed.
However, it is not just about new commitments, the delivery and implementation of plans after the summit is just as (if not more) important. We are asking our Government make their commitment alongside an implementation timeline and we will be sharing these details with communities across Nigeria so they are mobilised, aware and able to hold them to account. I also believe that the summit should make an effort to focus on engaging religious and traditional leaders; if they are included in country delegations they can be aware of the commitments and help to overcome barriers in implementation back in Nigeria.
3. Why is a global gathering important?
A global gathering like this is important because, when governments see the progress that other countries are making they are energised and inspired to do more. There is an African proverb that says that strong wrestlers must travel to other villages, to check out their competition and get stronger! A gathering like this can work in similar way, a kind of indirect checks and balances. In addition, a global gathering of this kind also gives the government the opportunity to speak to donors and ask for specific support in things which have been proven to reduce maternal mortality. This is critical to address as we approach the timeline for the millennium development goals.
Tonte Ibraye is the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood Nigeria National Coordinator. WRA Nigeria has grown with over 700 active individual and organizational members spanning across 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, and is presently a member of the Core Technical Committee of the Federal Ministry of Health. In August 2011, Tonte mobilized hundreds of WRAN members to carry out a march in Port Harcourt, calling on the Nigeria Governors Forum to invest in health workers.
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.