The Challenge Initiative (TCI) scales evidence-based family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health interventions through a demand-driven partnership with ready, willing and able local governments.
First and foremost, TCI engages states in several resource mobilization strategies to ensure its political and financial commitment to family planning; help to establish and/or strengthen Advocacy Core Groups (ACGs), which are independent of the government and serve as policy watchdogs.
- Increase funding for family planning by advocating for a family planning-specific budget line
- Ensure accountability for timely release of budget commitments
- Serve as a financial mechanism for good stewardship of resources
As a result, all 10 TCI-supported states now have dedicated budget lines for family planning at the Ministry of Health. For example, TCI’s advocacy efforts led the Abia State government to budget 200 million Naira ($560,000) for family planning interventions in its 2019 budget – the first time in its history that the state dedicated funds to family planning.
Before TCI came to Abia in June 2018, family planning was not considered a high priority, partner support for family planning was negligible when compared with other reproductive health issues and the state’s Family Planning Unit planned activities dependent on partner funds.
With TCI’s coaching support, the Abia State government is implementing several high-impact proven service delivery, demand generation and advocacy solutions. In terms of service delivery, the focus has been on facility-based in-reaches, establishing and strengthening the capacity of facility quality improvement teams and demonstrating the 72-hour clinic makeover in a selection of high-volume sites.
Before TCI, in-reaches have not previously been conducted in Abia State; as a result of TCI’s coaching model, in-reaches have now diffused throughout the state. This experience is significant because it illustrates the cascading effects of coaching as well as the diffusion and the impact of TCI primary best practices in Nigeria. TCI’s high-impact interventions in Abia state have contributed to a 279% increase in LARC uptake (denoted by the purple line in the graph below), which represents 7,456 new LARC users since TCI started implementation in July 2018.
These efforts, coupled with social mobilization and activities fostering an enabling environment, have contributed to a 108% increase in annual family planning client volume, comparing the 12 months leading up to June 2020 with the 12 months leading up to July 2018 (when TCI began implementation). This accounts for an additional 8,448 family planning clients. For long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), there was a 213% increase over the same period, translating to 5,698 additional LARC clients.
Abia State now has other partners, including Marie Stopes, John Snow Incorporated and UNFPA, willing to provide support for FP interventions. Health workers are now lobbying to work in the FP space. Government commitment which hitherto has been almost zero for FP has improved tremendously. Indeed, this TCI catalytic model is working in Abia State.
Dr Obasesam Edet, the State Programme Coordinator of TCI, during the End-line review meeting on FP media advocacy in Abia State, September 23, highlighted some of the areas of success as a result of media advocacy. He stated that the Abia State government has released funds for Family Planning; to be spread over a period, which necessitated the training of health professionals in the state by TCI. He also revealed that there is now an increased FP service uptake across the state, improved quality service delivery for family planning and the elimination of user fees for FP across most service delivery points.
In a related development, the Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has assured that the mother and child hospital in the state which is at its final stage of completion will be commissioned and ready for service to Abians soon. Speaking after inspecting the facility located opposite Central Police Station, Bende Road, Umuahia, Gov Ikpeazu expressed satisfaction with the progress of work.
According to him, the state has already taken delivery of two full containers of medical equipment for the hospital which came as a donation from Dr Jackson in Denver, Colorado, USA, as an offshoot of the collaboration between the state government and Abians in the diaspora.
Ahead of the World Contraception Day on September 26, experts issued the following statement: “Access to family planning and contraception services, free of coercion or impediment, is a component of the right to health that is central to women’s autonomy and agency and key in the realization of women’s rights to equality and non-discrimination, life, sexual and reproductive health rights and other human rights”.
Development Communication Network, a media support organization with resources to help journalists in reporting science, public health, and social sector issues and partners of TCI reiterate her commitment to continue to work with the media and urge practitioners to continue to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health. Akinlolu Akinpelumi Head of Operation at Development Communication Network reiterated that DevComs Network will continue to work with the media and urge practitioners to continue to raise awareness on sexual reproductive health including issues of child spacing and its benefits to women, and the overall wellbeing of families. Importantly, society will be able to manage its standard of living.
World Contraception Day takes place on 26 September and the aim is to improve awareness of all contraceptive methods available and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
The vision for FP2030 is to serve as an inclusive and results-oriented partnership that is working with a diverse group of global and country-based stakeholders and experts to accelerate action and address the most significant barriers to progress against the commitments made by partner countries.
Family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children, if any, and to determine the spacing of their pregnancies. It is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of infertility; which can be used to check population explosion and maternal mortality rate.