There is now a very high level of demand for family planning commodities in Abia state as a result of increased social mobilization and demand generation interventions supported by TCI; this is according to Amarachi Ugorji of the Family planning unit of Abia State Primary Health Development Agency-ABSPHCDA during a media roundtable on family planning.
Ugorji revealed that these commodities were received from the Federal Ministry of Health.
However, there was low utilization of FP commodities due to inadequate providers and inadequate demand generation for FP.
She explained that Last mile distribution was another major issue, adding that It was not easy moving commodities from the State to the LGAs and then to the Facilities.
As a result, some facilities resorted to buying some of these commodities resulting in the emergence of a user fee.
The interventions by TCI in Abia State have attracted other partners that support FP in the area of Contraceptive logistics management systems.
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Ugorji noted that TCI supports coaching and mentoring of Facility officers in charge and the innovative approach to the last-mile distribution of FP adopted now ensures that commodities now get to all facilities when requested.
Earlier, the state family planning coordinator Lady Adanna Iheama Kelechi stated that before TCI interventions there was a low family planning uptake, inadequate trained providers for FP, little or no prioritization of FP in the health sector, insufficient demand generation for FP, non-functional FP units in health facilities.
She also stated there was inadequate funding and no advocacy for FP in Abia state.
TCI’s intervention has led to the training of more than 200 health workers on Long-Acting Reversible Contraception – LARC; as against 25 trained before TCI came to the State, an increase by more than 100% in the number of new FP acceptors in the State.
Iheama further revealed that family planning now has a budget line with funds released by Government.
Speaking on how TCI has increased demand generation of FP in Abia state, Priscilla Omang said demand generation is a set of practices that increase awareness of and demand for health products or services among an intended audience.
“People’s actions are strongly influenced by their culture, beliefs, knowledge, relationships, feelings etc changing these factors can change their behaviors including contraceptive behaviour and this is the overall aim of demand generation”.
She indicated that since TCI came into Abia state in 2018 to provide technical assistance in the area of family planning with a demand-driven approach. TCI interventions catapulted the demand for family into an enviable height through social and behaviour change (SBCC) strategy.
The Challenge Initiative (TCI) is a five-year urban reproductive health program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to the United Nations, 66% of people around the world will be living in urban areas by 2050—2.5 billion more people than today. Ninety per cent of this increase will be in cities in Asia and Africa. Despite increasing urbanization, the poorest people living in cities rarely have adequate access to health information and services.
TCI builds on the former Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (URHI), which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiated to test a comprehensive approach to improve contraceptive access in cities in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal; partner with international NGOs, local community-based organizations, municipal health teams, and religious leaders to promote the benefits of family planning, dispel myths and rumours about contraceptives, encourage male involvement, and improve the quality of family planning services.