London — Following is an address to the Global Family Planning Summit by Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, the Minister of State for Health of Nigeria.
The Federal Government of Nigeria acknowledges the strong link between the structure of Nigeria's population and its national development. We are fully committed to reducing our currently unacceptably high maternal and child mortality rates. In this context, we are committed to enhancing access to, and utilization of essential, basic life-saving interventions, including the unmet need for family planning. This will be done in an integrated manner within framework of primary health care approach.
The structure of our population is such that the working age to non-working age population ratios have remained fairly stable over the last 50 years, driven by relatively high annual growth rates. We are aware that favourable ratios of working age to non-working age population enhances human capital investment as well as household savings potential. We realize that in order for Nigeria to reap its demographic dividend, and fulfill our aspiration for it to become one of the world's largest 20 economies by 2020, there is need for purposeful government effort to meet the currently unmet need for family planning commodities, enhance education of both girls and boys and empower our women. This is why human capital development is a pillar of the Transformation Agenda of His Excellency, Mr. President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's administration.
Within the context of our desire to enhance maternal and child survival, as well as accelerate our demographic transition, we are committed to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate of 36% by 2018.
Achieving this goal will mean averting at least 31,000 maternal deaths.
Over 700,000 mothers will be prevented from injuries or long-term complications due to childbirth. This is consistent with our results-focused initiative of "Saving one million lives" in Nigeria by 2015.
We will achieve our goals and targets by working in close collaboration with our diverse but complementary partners. From the side of Government, we have already created an enabling policy environment and taken concrete actions that support vision and aspiration for improving maternal and child health. We will work with private sector, civil society, traditional and religious institutions as well as development partners.
In addition to our current annual commitment of US$3 million for the procurement of reproductive health commodities, we are now committing to provide an additional US$8,350,000 annually over the next four years, making a total of US$33,400,000 over the next four years. This additional amount will be programmed within the existing projection for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme funds for Maternal and Child Health. We will use the funds to procure the commodities through UNFPA on the platform of an already existing agreement.
Within the context of our fiscally decentralized Federal system of government, we will work with the State and Local Governments to secure complementary budgets for family planning and reproductive health service delivery.
We will train our frontline health workers to deliver a range of contraceptives, and especially to improve the utilization of long acting methods like intra-uterine devices and injectable contraceptives.
We will work to unleash the potential of our private sector in making life-saving commodities available for our people. We will encourage the private sector to engage in domestic manufacturing of essential health commodities including contraceptives. We will also pursue making the commodities more affordable through efficient regulation and improving in-country logistics system.
We recognize that in Nigeria, the average total fertility for uneducated women is more than twice that of women who have had above secondary education. Thus, girl-child education remains an important area of focus to improve reproductive health and reduce maternal and child mortality.
Girl-child education focusing on completion of quality primary, secondary and post-secondary education for our future mothers is critical. But, girls alone do not make babies. We will continue to pursue efforts to improve overall quality of education for all children.
These efforts will take time, and perhaps even more time because of the already large birth cohorts that are constantly coming into the education system. So, access to reproductive health services and commodities remains the first priority in this context.
We are aware of the challenge to address inequities in the access, utilization and distribution of health outcomes. In the case of family planning in Nigeria, women in the richest wealth quintile are more than 10 times likely to have access to family planning services (35% versus 3.2%) regardless of geography, ethnicity or religion. We are committed to increasing the awareness and demand for family planning and reproductive health services by women regardless of their socio-economic status. In our quest to save one million lives in Nigeria by 2015, we consider all lives have equal value.
In conclusion, I wish to reaffirm that the Federal Government of Nigeria remains fully committed to meeting unmet needs for reproductive health services and commodities, including family planning. This will be done in an integrated, collaborative manner. We are focused to save the lives of mothers and children from preventable causes and consider family planning a life-saving intervention. This effort is important for our country to reap its demographic dividend in the years to come.