Friday, 13 May 2022

CAN Notifies Security Agencies That Deborah's Killer Must Be Apprehended



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has firmly opposed the brutal murder of Deborah Samuel, a Christian 200-level student at Sokoto's Shehu Shagari College of Education, by some orthodox classmates for blasphemy.

On behalf of the association, the CAN's General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, Esq, stated that the criminals' illegal and atrocious activities must not only be condemned by all right-thinking people, but security personnel must also discover and prosecute them as required.

The group suggested that "in the past, the failure of security agencies and the government to respond to such criminalities gave rise to terrorists and bandits." And as long as the state government fails to bring these beasts and criminals to justice, society will continue to be their killing grounds.

"We appreciate His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar 111's prompt reaction, in which he not only condemned the illegal and religiously intolerant behavior, but also called on security authorities to bring the offenders to punishment. We want the State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, to ensure that the subject is not pushed under the rug as it was previously.

"We also call on all teachers and preachers of religious intolerance, extremism, and terrorism to repent before God's vengeance falls on them if the State fails to bring them to justice. They are death agents among us.

"We recall the Sterling Bank's controversial and insulting commercial in which the bank equated Jesus Christ's Resurrection to "Agege bread," until now, nobody has been attacked, and even the CAN leadership has accepted the apologies given by its Chief Executive, Abubakar Suleiman. Killing in the name of any God is sinful, satanic, dumb, disgusting, and completely wrong. This is not the Stone Age, nor is Nigeria a banana republic. Nigeria is still a non-religious state, with no religion ruling supreme.

"It is our hope that those vampires dressed in religious robes will not drag the country into a religious war," they added.
"This is why the government and security forces must stop treating them like children, enough already. CAN sympathizes with Deborah's family and other bereaved. M ay God console and comfort them, In Jesus Name"
"Many thanks to the many other Nigerians who spoke out against this horrific murder." "It was a really terrible development in twenty-first-century Nigeria," they said.

Women In Nightlife Industry Work A Lot Harder Than Their Male Colleagues — Adeeko



BY CHIOMA UMEHA 

Adenike Isi Adeeko, an Abuja socialite and hospitality specialist, states that female entrepreneurs in the nightlife business work three times as hard as their male colleague. Adeeko noted poor societal perception, cultural and religious misrepresentation, and financial limits as some of the challenges they face.

Adeeko told journalists on the sidelines of the inaugural Ibiza party hosted at Tiki Cultures Abuja, "Few women are in the nightlife business because it is demanding emotionally, financially, and there are so many hurdles placed against us."

In a statement made on Thursday, she stated, "Women in the nightlife business must work three times as hard as males to be successful." Adeeko said why she opted to work in the nightlife industry: "First and foremost, I enjoy partying." Second, I saw a few years ago that people in this city aren't used to celebrating themed events, so I decided to fill that hole, and the people love it."

"These parties are highly expensive to design and execute," the Abuja socialite added, urging for more collaboration to help women in the nightlife business overcome problems. Additional cooperation will relieve us (women) of the financial burden of hosting more theme parties."

Nigerian Basketball Has Been Pushed Into The Shadows Following Withdrawal From International Competitions



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

Following the federal government's approval of the sport's two-year suspension from international play, Nigerian basketball has been cast into shadow.The government's move is based on a staged crisis engineered by some presidential figures who feel frightenend over Musa Ahmed Kida's re-election as president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).

The government announced the decision as a result of the "unending problem that has afflicted and virtually decimated basketball development in the country," according to the administration. "President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for a period of two years," according to the statement.

The statement, signed by Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, noted that the withdrawal will allow the country to revitalize the sport from the grassroots level as well as revive the country's dormant domestic leagues.

The government plans to form an Interim Management Committee to oversee the sport's development and address other relevant issues. "The government plans to use this time off to address all contentious problems between stakeholders. The Interim Management Committee's membership and  Terms of Reference (TOR) will be revealed in due course", according to the statement.

The government reaffirmed its interest in and dedication to the sport's development, as well as the plethora of homegrown talent, stressing that it wants all of this to take place in an atmosphere free of resentments and squabbles.

As it embarks on far-reaching steps to reposition, sustain, and stabilize the sport for long-term growth and success, the government has urged players, officials, fans, and other stakeholders to be calm.

Heineken Hosts Africa's largest UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

Heineken has hosted its most extravagant Trophy Tour in Africa, in an effort to keep the UEFA Champions League (UCL) experience closer to more football fans around the world. The 10-day tour, which concluded on April 13 in Abuja, Nigeria, ahead of the 2022 final match on May 28, included various public engagements in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, where the UCL trophy was on display. Fans from Rwanda and Congo Brazzaville also attended the tour in Nigeria and DRC respectively.

Open-truck city parades, novelty matches with local celebrities, UCL quarterfinal match viewings, fan meet and greets, picture sessions, media rounds, Afrobeats concerts, and visits to government agencies responsible for football were among the events surrounding the tour. Heineken has been a sponsor of the UCL since 2005, and the company's leadership says that its Africa-wide trophy tour for the 2021/2022 season would reach 50,000 Africans directly, with an estimated 10 million more being reached through media coverage.

A football match sponsored by Heineken in Lagos, Nigeria was a highlight of the trophy trip. It matched Nigerian music superstars and football luminaries against the Trophy Tour Ambassador, professional coach and former Dutch international midfielder Clarence Seedorf, as well as top staff of Nigerian Breweries, the local Heineken brewer. 

Team Nigeria was captained by BET Award-winning Afrobeats musician Davido, who included ex-Nigerian internationals Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, and Taribo West. Rapper M.I. Abaga, R&B artist Darey, and Nigerian Breweries Marketing Director Emmanuel Oriakhi were also on the team. Team Heineken was led by Seedorf, who included Nigerian Breweries Finance Director Rob Kleinjan and the company's Supply Chain Director Martin Kochl, among others.

The novelty battle took place before an Afrobeats performance featuring African superstar Davido and Peruzzi, another top-tier Nigerian artist. At the M.K.O Abiola stadium in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, members of the Heineken management team and Seedorf met with Sunday Dare, the Nigerian Minister of Youth and Sports Development.

The Champions League is an annual competition between top-tier football clubs organized by UEFA, the umbrella organization for 55 national football associations across Europe. The last match in 2022 will take place on May 28 at the Stade de France in Paris.

"The Trophy Tour's purpose is to encourage a new generation of African footballers and thank supporters for their support of the UCL and Heineken," stated Bram Westerbrink, Heineken's Senior Global Director.

Bram also mentioned how important the continent is to the growth of football and the UCL. Several European clubs in the English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German leagues have sizable African fan bases, with many of the supporters organizing get-togethers and celebrations when their favorite teams win tournaments.

Football has positioned itself as the most popular sport on the continent, with over 100 Africans currently playing professionally, over 25 UCL winners from Africa, and over 300 million African followers. "This is why Heineken is happy to celebrate its partnership with the UCL," Hans Erik Tuijt, Director, Global Heineken Sponsorships, said, adding that Heineken has the highest level of awareness as a UCL sponsor on the continent.

COVID-19 Pandemic: 30 Women Undergo Training Provided by the Nigerian Government On Production Of Sanitary Items In Bauchi



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

In Bauchi state, a total of 30 women were trained in the production of hygienic goods for the management of COVID-19 dangers. The federal government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in Bauchi State, hosted a one-day workshop titled "Building Women Economic Resilience for Inclusive Recovery."

The training was conducted as part of the Ministry's Women's Economic Empowerment (WEE) program, which was a cooperation between the Ministry and QUB Resources Limited, Abuja. Mrs Lydia Shehu, a representative of QUB Resources Limited, stated during the session that the goal of the course was to increase personal protection, improve personal cleanliness, and protect family members from infections and viruses, among other things.

"The goal is for them to master the skills and use them as a source of income." They will increase their salary and will also be obliged to train other women. We were fortunate to have a knowledgeable and resourceful resource person for the training, which contributed to the exercise's richness and effect." She said

Mrs Lydia said that there was a COVID-19 epidemic in the recent past, and many people were affected, with some losing their lives. According to her, the Federal Ministry for Women Affairs, chaired by Dame Pauline Tallen, coordinated the Women's Economic Empowerment Workshop for the creation of sanitary goods for the management of COVID-19 dangers.

"Women and children are the most affected in most pandemics or disease burdens, and the Federal Ministry, in its wisdom, decided to conduct this training to the states in Nigeria, and Bauchi state is one of them. These women are taught to make hygienic products like liquid soap, hand sanitizers, Dettol, and Izar," she explained.

The representative went on to say that the skills taught were not capital-intensive, and that trainees could start their businesses with little. However, she encouraged the trainees to put their new talents to use and pass on their expertise to other women in the state.

Two beneficiaries, Mrs Abigael Yusuf and Rukayat Uthman, expressed their gratitude to the Minister for Women Affairs for the generous gesture, saying it will help to reduce idleness and poverty in some households.

They claimed that instead of buying those products from the market, they could now make them for themselves and their families, and that they would share their knowledge with their friends and other members of their communities.

International Nurses' Day 2022: The WHO African Region Faces a Critical Shortage of Staff Nurses - Dr Moeti



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has stated that the WHO African Region has long faced a chronic shortage of nurses, which, if not resolved, poses a substantial danger to our journey toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Based on the most recent recent figures, our 47 Member States have 1.6 million nurses and midwives. Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa account for 66% of all nurses worldwide.

This indication was provided in her statement to honor International Nurses' Day 2022, with the theme Nurses: A Voice to Lead - Invest in Nursing and Respect Rights to Secure Global Health, which could not be more fitting. To achieve the health-related global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the world needs 9 million extra nurses and midwives.

"According to WHO's analysis in Africa, a crucial threshold of roughly 60 nurses and midwives per 10,000 people is required to achieve at least 70% of the Universal Health Service coverage index. Most countries now have less than 20, with many countries on the continent having even fewer than that. 

"Nurses play an important role in Primary Health Care, as they are sometimes the first and sometimes the only health professional a patient encounters. They help with research, disease prevention, injury treatment, and palliative care, among other things. On the front lines of disease prevention and treatment, they are true unsung heroes." It is widely believed that investing in nurses and midwives is a worthwhile investment. Investments in education and job development in the health and social sectors, according to the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, yield a tripled yield in form of improved health outcomes, global health security, and inclusive economic growth.

"Throughout the pandemic, nurses have made significant sacrifices, performed bravely, and recommitted everyday to addressing a global health hazard unprecedented in modern times, serving as a vital pillar supporting African health care systems through some very difficult times."

"As WHO in Africa, we are supporting Member States to strengthen nursing and midwifery through the implementation of the Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery (SDNM) 2021-2025, and an interconnected set of policy priorities to direct the contributions of nurses and midwives to achieve Universal Health Coverage and other population health goals", Moeti added. "As part of our ongoing efforts to give nurses a voice, WHO launched the Nursing and Midwifery Global Community of Practice virtual network, a venue for nurses and midwives from around the world to join forces with one another, WHO, and other key stakeholders". 

"Today is International Nurses' Day, and I'd like to use this occasion to urge African countries to make the required investments to assist boost the appeal of the nursing profession. This will necessitate sufficient equipment, improved working conditions, appropriate education, opportunities for upskilling, and job development. Nursing leadership must also be improved, with chief nursing and midwifery officers charged with advancing the nursing agenda in education, employment, policy, and practice".

"Nurses may provide about 80% of primary health care, and the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly acted as an important platform to emphasize how vital nurses are in maintaining normal health care while simultaneously responding to a global disaster.

The need for investing in nurse education, employment, and leadership is strong, and now is the moment to take action ", she continued.

She commended and hailed the nurses in the African Region, thanking them for their continuous commitment to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Training on Gender Based Violence, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Has Been Organized by a Group In Yobe State



BY CHIOMA UMEHA

The Yobe State chapter of the Muslim Sisters Organization of Nigeria held a two-day training session on social audit, citizens report cards, and community score cards for women's rights organizations and other civil society organizations.With thirty-five (35) participants from the state's six implementing local government areas, the training session is being held in conjunction with UN Women at the Desert multipurpose hall in Damaturu.

Hajiya Magajiya Mohammed Kellumi, the Amira of the MSON Yobe State, said the initiative was launched in 2019 and is being executed in the state's Damaturu, Gujba, Potiskum, Bade, Fune, and Nguru local government areas, which are believed to have high rates of GBV and SGBV.

She went on to say that the training's goal is to educate individuals, particularly rural dwellers, on how to follow government and non-governmental organization programs in their communities.Yusuf Kagara, a facilitator and Gender based violence (GBV) officer at the MSON, stressed the importance of trainees maintaining openness and accountability since they are responsible with ensuring that monies provided for projects are used wisely.

He affirmed his delight at Governor Mai Mala Buni's addition to the VAPP law, stating that an instrument has been made available to penalize offenders and perpetrators of SGBV and GBV in the state. Some participants, including Abdulhamid Mohammed Nguru, Hajiya Aisha Mohammed, and Mohammed Ibrahim Abba, claimed the program increased their understanding of how to undertake projects in underserved areas.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Abiola Adekoya: Retired Nurse Tirelessly Providing Pro-Bono Family Planning Services In Lagos




BY CHIOMA UMEHA

Notwithstanding that a 60-year-old nurse, Abiola Adekoya, is a retired civil servant, she is still working tirelessly to ensure that every woman who needs to delay pregnancy or totally avoid pregnancy has access to family planning on a pro-bono basis in Lagos. For Adekoya, no Nigerian woman should die from pregnancy-related reasons if there is unhindered access, availability and use of family planning. 

The family planning facilitator and resident social worker in Local Council Development Area (LCDA) Lagos State, in an exclusive interview with this Reporter said that the use of family planning enables mothers and their babies to be healthier, and avoid risky pregnancies. “I started my family planning training in ogun State between 1986 and 1987,” the veteran in family planning stated, describing her foray into pro-bono services. “In 1991, I was transferred to the Lagos State Service Commission (LSCC), where I worked in various Local Government Areas (LGAs). I joined the Family Planning Unit in Ikorodu before being transferred to Kosofe and then to Lagos Mainland before retiring.” "I have a lot of skill acquisition as a family planning provider because I also trained at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idiaraba, Mushin," Adekoya stated when asked how she acquired her amount of expertise. 

Family planning was taught to us at LUTH. Since retiring in 2015, I've collaborated with a number of development partners, including 'DKT,' which introduced family planning education to my community. We provided family planning services to 150 women in my town and others in other LGAs. “I was also one of the family planning providers trained and sponsored by Pathfinder International, Nigeria, and Nigeria Urban Reproductive Health Initiatives (NURHI). I did radio call-in programs in Radio Lagos through the support of Pathfinder International Nigeria.” 

She stressed on the importance of family planning, noting that it offers unlimited benefits to every woman who adopts any of the methods. Implants, injectables, lactation, tablets, condoms, amenorrhea, patch, ring, bead, and irreversible procedures such as bilateral tubal ligation and vasectomy are among the family planning options offered in various clinics in Lagos, according to Adekoya. She urged family planning service providers to educate clients on the many methods available and their potential adverse effects so that they may make informed decisions.

The veteran pro-bono family planning service provider said she had trained over 300 health workers on family planning. She renewed her commitment to continue to raise awareness on family planning considering its numerous health and economic benefits to individuals and the entire country on pro-bono basis. For instance, she said, “In mainland, I trained 60 community health provider on family planning, between 2015 and 2016 alone.” Similarly, Adekoya said that has provided family planning for countless women in her community, neigbouring communities among other LGAs in Lagos State. The seasoned family planning expert said, “In my community here, I have introduced family planning to many women and they are embracing it. 

Family planning is a tool for safe motherhood. It saves lives. It creates a healthy family.” However, the mother of four and grandma of many children cited a lack of a budget line for consumables as a major barrier to women fully embracing family planning. In many African nations today, when the economy is constantly falling, raising healthy and happy children is a big struggle. Furthermore, many African countries, including Nigeria, are in poor health and have high rates of child and maternal mortality. Studies show that unplanned pregnancies without family planning cause population growth in many countries around the world. 

In view of this, all countries are increasingly being called upon to curb population explosions by introducing family planning methods. However, for some women in the Agboyi-Ketu area of Lagos, contraception and various types of family planning remain excellent tools for controlling frequent births and inducing desired family sizes. Mrs. Tina Ajayi, 42-year- old mother of three is one of several mothers taking advantage of family planning in Alapere, Ketu, Agoyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state. 

The implant procedure brought enormous joy to the happy mother of three. She acknowledged her delight at the implant procedure. "Ever since I started family planning, I have loved having sex with my husband without concern of getting pregnant," Ajayi told this reporter during a recent field trip to the area. I'm more relieved now than I was before, and I don't have to worry about unintended pregnancies. All this is possible because my husband supported this family planning process. It is our right to decide how many children we want.” 

Similarly, Mrs. Titilayo Adelabu claimed that using contraception prevented her and her husband from having more children than they could handle. "You can see I already have six children, which is even too much," the clearly pleased mom stated. When I was pregnant with my sixth child, a matron approached me and advised me to utilize family planning to avoid having a seventh child. God forbid, the sixth one was a mistake, I murmured. But, because I am readily pregnant, I was terrified and had to listen to the retired nurse matron. The matron counselled me and then introduced me to the Intra Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD), assuring me that it would last longer,” Adelabu added. IUCD is a long acting reversible contraception that goes into the uterus. 

 “Though I had some negative effects at first, I am happy about it because my body has accustomed to it,” the businesswoman continued. I now enjoy sex with my husband without concern of becoming pregnant, thanks to the matron.” Mrs. Shola Akin, a 28-year-old mother of two, claimed that family planning makes her happy. She claims that the procedure has given her two children a better quality of life, while also allowing her to have a planned pregnancy. Akin appeared to be pleased. “I selected implants so that my children would have plenty of room. I became pregnant six months after my first child was born. It was difficult for me to care for my first child and manage my pregnancy at the same time. I don't want to make the same mistake.” Studies have shown that infants born to women who conceived less than six months after giving birth had a 40 per cent increased risk of being born prematurely and a 61 per cent increased risk of low birth weight as compared with infants born to mothers who gave birth after 18 months or two years between pregnancies. 

There have been increasing concerns about growing unmet needs and low CPR amid poor budgets for contraceptives as Nigeria recently launched the Family Planning (FP2030) commitment and dissemination of other Reproductive Health Policy documents. Though family planning is recognised as an important tool in the prevention of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, child and maternal deaths, its budgets are either not released or released untimely, therefore meeting set targets remain unrealistic. Recall that the Federal Government had a target in 2012, to increase Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) to 36 percent by 2018. 

 However, on July 11, 2017, at the family planning summit in London, this target was rebased to 27 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, two years later, the modern contraceptive rate in the country remains at 12 percent. With the steady decline of funding from donors, coupled with the unmet need for modern methods of contraception in 2021, put at 12 percent of all women, there is an increasing call for government at all levels to increase domestic funding for improved access to family planning services. With 10.6 million Nigerian women lacking access to contraceptives due to growing demand, stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to increase funding for family planning. 

The 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) confirmed that 10.6 million women in the country do not have access to contraceptives, despite the growing demand for family planning. The 2018 report further showed that Nigeria has a low modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 12 percent. This is below the sub-Saharan average of 24 percent. The Federal Government had in 2011 rolled out a policy meant to enable women to access contraceptives free of charge, however, only 12 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 42 million women use modern contraceptives. 

Family planning providers like Adekoya with passion for pro-bono services believe that if all unmet needs for modern contraception in the country were satisfied, unintended pregnancies would drop by 77 percent, from 2.5 million to 555,000 per year. Further, the annual number of unplanned births would drop from 885,000 to 200,000 and the number of abortions would decrease from 1.3 million to 287,000.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Adigwe wins Nigeria's Highest Productivity Award



BY CHIOMA UMEHA 

Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe, Director-General, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has beaten thousands of contenders to emerge the first prominent healthcare chief executive to clinch the highly coveted Productivity Awards for the 2019/2020 session.



Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity indicate that Dr. Adigwe emerged tops following a vigorous evidence-based selection process that reviewed hard-work, excellence, innovation and productivity output from 2017 to 2020.


Barring any last minute changes, sources indicate that Mr. President would personally confer the award on Thursday,  May 12, at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.


Adigwe is being conferred with the National Productivity Order Of Merit (NPOM) Award by the President of the Federal Republic of NigerĂ­a, Muhammadu Buhari, in recognition of his high productivity.


It would be recalled that in 2017 and 2018, Adigwe had as Executive Secretary of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) led advocacy efforts to reverse the insidious Common External Tariff (CET), which threatened the entire Pharma Industry. 


Along with Dr. S. Okey Akpa, the President of the West African Pharma Manufacturers Association, he conceptualised the Medicines Security Concept, which laid the foundation for drug and vaccines manufacturing initiatives that have taken centre stage today following the COVID-19 Pandemic.


Earlier, he had made his mark by designing and implementing the robust and comprehensive advocacy plan that led to the ring fencing of local manufacture for several main categories of medicines in the 2016 National Fiscal Policy.


Analysis shows that this landmark intervention led to double digit sectoral growth in the indicated areas, as well as inflow of millions of dollars of new investment, and the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the sector.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, Adigwe’s maverick performance as Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) led to Nigeria’s emergence as a leading scientific authority in evidence-based policymaking.


Notably, he led the team that provided the first international categorical analysis on the COVID organics preparation which then underpinned decision making that saved countless lives and conserved millions of dollars. 


Adigwe also convened the first National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) for verification and validation of phyto claims. The output from the team of close to two dozen erudite and eminent Professors is now open sourced and underpins international objective analysis in the sector.


Stakeholders have lauded the recognition of this maverick Director General, especially since he was appointed barely three years ago following a merit driven recruitment process. Scientists and Academics further posit that Adigwe’s performance is evidence that Nigeria should focus on meritocracy in the selection of Agency Heads and Chief Executives so as to ensure the emergence of round holes in round pegs, which is critical to National Productivity and Development.


 Whilst a chronological analysis suggests that Adigwe appears to be the highest Public Service Health Chief Executive to clinch this coveted award, other notable Nigerians who have previously clinched this highly coveted award include Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu of Dangote Industries and the TEF Foundation, respectively.

Preventing Unplanned Pregnancies, HIV transmission From Mother To Child





By CHIOMA UMEHA

Experts have continued to advocate for the integration of HIV and family planning services as part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent unplanned pregnancies and HIV transmission from mother to child.
According to studies, the comprehensive strategy is the most effective way to increase contraceptive use among women who want to avoid or delay pregnancy in order to prevent HIV transmission to their children.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is one of the countries where a number of health-care system barriers are preventing the effective and long-term delivery of family planning and HIV services under one roof. Despite the fact that Nigeria has signed global agreements, there are significant gaps in translating policy support into widespread practice. This is just as research has proven PMTCT as a better strategy for HIV management in children as the new antiretroviral treatment (ART) is still at the pilot stage in the country.
Regrettably, programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV continue to be implemented and evaluated as a narrow set of interventions that typically begin in antenatal care, after a woman is already pregnant. This is one of the reasons for the growing number of HIV infections and deaths among Nigerian newborns and children. The National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCP) reports that 409 and 833 Nigerian babies were HIV positive in 2020 and 2019 respectively. Regrettably, the country also recorded 808 HIV positive babies in 2018, while the figure was1,359 in 2017.
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) reports that more than 47 children and adolescents died every day from AIDS-related causes across the country in 2018, according to a global snapshot on children and HIV/AIDS. The reasons are not far-fetched. Low access to antiretroviral treatment and limited prevention efforts are the leading causes for these deaths, with only 54 percent of children aged 0-14 living with HIV globally in 2018 -or 790,000 children - receiving lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.
Voluntary family planning to enable women and couples to determine the timing and spacing of their pregnancies have long been recognised as a basic human right. Sadly too, data indicates that women living with HIV experience high rates of unmet need for family planning and unintended pregnancies. Experts confirm the contributions of family planning to global health and development, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 2012 epoch-making London Summit on family planning canvassed support for the far-reaching benefits of family planning, leading funders, government leaders and other partners to commit to expanding access to contraception and rights-based family planning services to an additional 120 million women and girls. For women and couples living with HIV who do not wish to become pregnant, family planning offers the added benefit of helping prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).
Also, in 2003, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners conceptualised a comprehensive framework for PMTCT consisting of certain core elements. These include, primary prevention of HIV among women of childbearing age; prevention of unintended pregnancies among women living with HIV and prevention of transmission from HIV-infected women to their infants. The fourth element is the provision of treatment, care and support to HIV-infected women and their children and families
Ten years later, this four-element strategy continues to provide the foundation for current global commitments to eliminate new pediatric HIV infection. These include the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children By 2030 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive. The centrality of family planning to MTCT elimination is clearly articulated in both of these commitments.
To achieve this goal, prevention of unintended pregnancies among women with HIV must be elevated as a programmatic priority in Nigeria. While the importance of family planning to achieving the end of new pediatric HIV infection is recognised in relevant policy statements, few PMTCT programs have increased access to contraception for HIV-infected women and couples who do not wish to become pregnant.
A change in how PMTCT HIV programmes are conceptualised, implemented, and evaluated is needed to better address the contraceptive needs of HIV-infected women and accelerate progress toward ending HIV infections among Nigerian children. Increased implementation of evidence-based comprehensive family planning and HIV services would boost the use of family planning in eliminating mother-to-child transmission of infection in Nigeria.
To this effect, PMTCT and other HIV service delivery implementers, policymakers, and funders should also adopt family planning interventions as a routine component of their programmes. Transforming services in this way will help HIV-infected women and couples achieve their desired timing and number of children and, in turn, lead to gains on both reproductive health outcomes and elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Consequently, women who want to become pregnant could be supported to plan for safer conception and access ART services to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child. Those that do not want to become pregnant could be supported to access and use family planning. Indeed, combining family planning and HIV programs for women as a holistic service will speed up progress toward eradicating new HIV infections among children.


Boosting Family Planning Services To Address Preventable Maternal Deaths In Nigeria



By CHIOMA UMEHA

In line with global calls, boosting family planning services for women who want to delay or prevent pregnancy would address preventable maternal and new-born deaths in the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 814 per 100,000 live births. Furthermore, the WHO report revealed that increased access and use of modern contraceptives by women of reproductive ages between 15 and 45 years would curb maternal mortality. The goal is to achieve a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Experts insist that maternal mortality would be avoidable if family planning is integrated in the country’s health system to control the country’s fertility and maternal mortality rate. A look at Nigeria’s population dynamics reveals that it is made up of a majorly young reproductive populace. Nigeria’s population is put at 215,105,356 as of Wednesday, April 6, 2022, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

Unfortunately, Nigeria has majority of middle-aged, young adults and even adolescents, most of whom the country has neglected their sexual and reproductive health. According to population projections by the United Nations for 2020, about 43 per cent of the Nigerian population comprised children of 0-14 years, 19 percent aged 15-24 years and about 62 percent are below age 25 years. By contrast, less than five percent is aged 60 years and above. Similarly, Nigeria’s population growth which is equivalent to 2.64 percent of the total world population ranks number seven in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population. Yet, the country is where nearly 20 percent of all global maternal deaths happen. Between 2005 and 2015, it is estimated that over 600 000 maternal deaths and no less than 900 000 maternal near-miss cases occurred in the country.

In 2015, Nigeria’s estimated maternal mortality ratio was over 800 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, with approximately 58 000 maternal deaths during that year. By comparison, the total number of maternal deaths in 2015 in the 46 most developed countries was 1700, resulting in a maternal mortality ratio of 12 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births.

In fact, a Nigerian woman has a one in 22 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/post-abortion; whereas in the most developed countries, the lifetime risk is one in 4900.

Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) confirmed that no fewer than 50,000 women die annually in Nigeria due to maternal causes. Similarly, the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) reports that seven women die every one hour from maternal health causes. The 2018 NDHS further reported that an average Nigerian woman gives birth to 5.3 children, adding that, women in rural areas have an average of 5.9 children compared to 4.5 children among urban women. The report further showed that one in five teenage girls age between 15 and 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. Rural teenage girls are three times more likely to have begun childbearing than urban teenage girls at a figure which is put at 27 percent versus eight percent. But evidence shows that encouraging family planning still remains the preventive method to reduce maternal mortality, by cutting down the risks of unplanned pregnancies and deaths.

For instance, Lagos state said it has averted about 167,000 unintended pregnancies, 59,000 abortions and 1,100 maternal deaths, following growing modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (mCPR) from about 22.7 per cent in 2013 to 29.1 per cent in 2018. Experts have blamed poor contraceptive use and family planning service gaps for fueling unplanned pregnancies and maternal deaths in the country. The 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) confirmed that contraceptive use is very low in Nigeria.   The NDHS reported that 17 percent only use all methods of family planning, while 12 percent of currently married women use modern methods.

In addition, about one in five women (19 per cent) have an unmet need for family planning. However, analysts say that if all currently married women who want to space or limit their children were to use a family planning method, Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate would increase from 17 per cent to 36 per cent. However, several reasons have been advanced for poor use of contraceptives and family planning, including misconception and costs of procuring them. The 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) confirmed that contraceptive use is very low in Nigeria.   The NDHS reported that 17 percent only use all methods of family planning, while 12 percent of currently married women use modern methods.

In addition, about one in five women (19 per cent) have an unmet need for family planning. However, analysts say that if all currently married women who want to space or limit their children were to use a family planning method, Nigeria’s contraceptive prevalence rate would increase from 17 per cent to 36 per cent. The Federal Government, in collaboration with partners and private sector stakeholders, had in 2012, pledged to achieve a Modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (MCPR) of 27 per cent in Nigeria, among all women by 2020. But, the family planning target indicators by 2020 showed that Nigeria only achieved 12 per cent MCPR, forcing the timeline to be shifted to 2030. Many analysts believe that Nigeria should channel more efforts to increase its MCPR, if the country must reduce its high maternal deaths and attain the family planning 2030 goal.


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