COVID-19: Experts Lament Neglect Of Other Health Programmes By Government

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Experts on reproductive health have lamented the abandonment of other health programmes by the federal and state government as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

They blamed the setbacks witnessed in family planning upkeep in Delta on inability to access the N25 million budgeted for the programme by state government.

The experts who spoke at a roundtable media chat on Monday, June 29 in Asaba, on the theme, “Family Planning Budget Line Release; The Great Imperative in Delta State”, noted that the state government budgeted N8.5 million in 2018 and through pressure and demand, the budget provision was pushed up to N25 million in 2020 but regretted that the fund was never released to finance Family Planning programmes in the state.

The Advocacy Core Group Chairperson, Mrs Rachael Obodo-Obuneli, lamented that other health programmes have been abandoned while all attention has been shifted to the COVID-19.

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She revealed that Federal Government in 2018, approved N2.9 billion as counterpart fund for the programme, but released N300 million in 2019.

She said, “With the current novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, governments had virtually neglected other health challenges such as; family planning, malaria among others which currently pose serious challenge in the society.

“There was no doubt that the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 had impacted negatively on the people, and most families will come down with cases of unplanned pregnancies due to lack of consumables and access to facilities.

“The budget line for federal government was between 2018 and 2019; in 2018, the federal government matched up the donor’s funding with N2.4 billion and another N500 million was also given to improve family planning through contraceptive use intervention.

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“In 2019, the federal government had zero budget for the programme but the sum of N300 million was released for contraceptives, this is about 90 per cent reduction in funding of the programme in the country compared to that of 2018.

“There is a very huge gap in funding the programme in the country, this is the reason why there has been shortage of commodities among others at the Primary Health Care Facilities across the country in the period under review.

Obodo-Obuneli said the programme has been sustained by donor agencies within the period.

On her part, the Principal Medical Officer, Delta State University, Asaba Campus, Dr Bobola Agbonle, said unless government took decisive action, the impact of the lockdown would reflect on cases of unplanned pregnancies and population explosion.

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“We have been on the lockdown for upward of three months, since March, and come December, we are going to have explosion of babies.

“And at the same time, we are also expecting explosion of abortions because most women can take the decision to abort the unwanted pregnancies”

She noted that child spacing through family planning helped prevent death during pregnancies, adding that the more children a woman has, exposed her to higher risks and death.

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