Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria (MSION) hosted the second edition of MSION webinar series in collaboration with the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists, Nigeria (NRHJ) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH).
This edition which took place on Saturday, June 13, 2020 focused on the theme “Sustaining Family Planning and Sexual Reproductive Health Service Delivery amidst COVID-19.”
In Nigeria, the Lock-down implemented to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus has seen a reduction in client visit to clinics, commodity logistic challenges and safety concerns amongst providers caused by the upsurge of infection among health workers. These have raised concerns over the implications of these unintended consequences on women's reproductive health, service availability and uptake including addressing risks of unintended pregnancies and sexual violence.
To address these concerns, the 2nd #MSIONWebinarSeries brought stakeholders from government, civil society, and journalists to share experiences on how they have sustained family planning and reproductive health services.
Speaking on MSION’s perspective in Sustaining Family Planning and Sexual Reproductive Health Service Delivery amidst COVID-19, Country Director, Effiom Nyong Effiom stated that Marie Stopes Nigeria understands that the pandemic will not stop women and girls from needing sexual and reproductive health services. Informed by this, MSION proactively secured approvals from National and State Ministries of Health that enabled team members to continue providing family planning and other reproductive healthcare services across the country despite the lockdown and movement restrictions in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that “MSION frontline health workers in 2,345 public health facilities, 167 community-based Marie Stopes Ladies, 220 social franchisees, three MSI Centres of excellence and 23 mobile outreach teams have continued to provide service in the lockdown.”
In the three months of the COVID-19 lockdown, client visits to MSION supported facilities increased owing to innovative mobilisation and client reach interventions implemented. These led to an increase in uptake of family planning methods as permanent method, implant, and IUD doubled during the COVID-19 period.
The pandemic caused supply chain disruptions which resulted in stuck out of commodities at service delivery points.
To address these challenges, MSION supported Last Mile Distribution and ensured availability of commodities where needed. MSION assisted states to distribute stocks from state stores to facilities when states received supply of commodities from the national store and boosted availability of commodities by moving stocks from low volume facilities to high volume facilities within states of operation.
During this period, 772, 628 persons across Nigeria were using a family planning method provided through one of MSION’s service delivery channels. This contributed to preventing 793,601 unintended pregnancies, 3,968 estimated maternal deaths, 19,781 estimated child deaths, and 279, 538 estimated Unsafe abortions.
Speaking on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Health, the Director, Reproductive Health, Dr Kayode Afolabi shared the perspective of the Federal Ministry of Health in Sustaining Family Planning and Sexual Reproductive Health Service Delivery amidst COVID-19. He noted that the ministry is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that women have access to modern contraceptives amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
He informed participants that “The Family Planning Department secured the approval of the Health Minister and communicated to states to sustain information and services on Reproductive Health and Family Planning as essential services during COVID-19 pandemic”. This was instrumental in ensuring that providers and organisations like MSION rendering reproductive health services continued to function without harassment from law enforcement agencies enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Dr Kayode noted there was an initial lag in the ministry’s response which resulted from lack of reproductive health and family planning guidelines during a pandemic such as COVID-19. This was addressed as the FMoH deployed COVID-19 SRH service guidelines, cleared commodities from the port and facilitated distribution to last-mile service delivery points.
He equally acknowledged that the pandemic has had some negative consequences on capacity building for providers and service uptake; stating that “consumption of key commodities which were on an upward trajectory in January 2020 is seen to have decreased significantly by April 2020, while for the period January to April, there was a 5.5 fold decrease in the number of training conducted and uploaded to the National FP dashboard. In 2019, over 4300 providers received in-service FP training compared to the 303 in 2020”.
The 2nd #MSIONWebinarSeries had over 170 journalists, SRH providers and civil society participants who expressed appreciation to the FMoH and MSION for sustaining services. While urging the government at all levels and SRH stakeholders to sustain SRH service provision as an essential health service.
To download Effiom Nyong Effiom's presentation CLICK HERE
To download Dr. Kayode Afolabi's presentation CLICK HERE
Watch the webinar below: