Self-injection contraceptive boosts family planning in Nigeria, says SFH

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…health ministry expectant of expansion

The Society for Family Health has said that the introduction of Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPASC), a self-injectable contraceptive, has significantly expanded the options available to Nigerian families for controlling the number and spacing of their children.

According to family health advocates, DMPASC added to the array of modern family planning methods, enhancing the Federal government’s efforts to reduce maternal mortality in the country.

The SFH’s managing director, Omokhudu Idogho, noted that self-care in family planning has led to progress in Nigeria, with the advent of DMPASC marking a notable increase in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, an innovation that has made family planning more convenient and decisions regarding it easier to make.

During the dissemination of the Delivering Innovations in Self-Care (DISC 1.0) project in Abuja, Idogho highlighted the success of the DISC project, which was initially piloted in Lagos, Oyo, and Niger states in 2020 and expanded to 15 states by August 2022 because of its impacts.

Noting that the collaboration between the Federal Government, SFH, and other partners has started to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system, even at the grassroots level, he said: “Global reports have shown “flatlines” in its annual reports of reductions in maternal death.

“Meaning that since 2016, the world has made little progress in saving women from preventable deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. Until a few years ago, one in four women could not make her own health-care decisions and nearly 1 in 10 are unable to make their own choices about whether to use contraception or not.

“It is no news anymore that the prevention of unintended pregnancies in turn contributes to reduction in maternal mortality and with the advent of self-care, women have been empowered to cater to their sexual and reproductive health (SRH), reducing unnecessary burden for the healthcare worker and strengthening the healthcare system, even at the community level.

“In Nigeria today, the wide range of modern family planning methods, especially the introduction of self-injection of the Depot Medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPASC) now allows women and their spouse/partner attain the desired number of children they want and to determine the spacing of their pregnancies. We know this works.

“Because the Society for Family Health in partnership with the Population Services International through the DISC 1.0 project funded by the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) has proven for the last 4 years the hidden power and capacity of the Nigerian primary health care system, the empowered health care provider and most importantly the capability of the average Nigerian woman to take charge of their SRH and better contribute to growing the economy and more importantly living healthier lives.”

Expressing satisfaction with the impact of the innovative family planning option, the SFH chief noted that the success was achieved by expanding the project’s scope beyond demand creation to include service delivery and health system strengthening.

According to him, through digital solutions and social media awareness campaigns leveraging social media and other platforms, empathy-based counselling among other innovations, the project has empowered women to take greater control over their sexual and reproductive health.

He said the initiative aims to increase the uptake and continuation of self-injectable contraception, ensuring that all women who choose this method have seamless access and support throughout their user journey.

According to him, the initiatives have also been used to train numerous healthcare workers and family planning providers, enabling them to deliver community-based interventions across over 1,000 health facilities in the 15 states where the project is implemented.

“Its Direct & catalytic impact has scaled National attention for SI markets, driving national SI impact from 13% to 40% as reported by the NHMIS, 2024”, he added.

Anyanwu Lawrence, Director of Reproductive Health at the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, expressed the Federal Government’s appreciation for the country’s performance with the self-injection initiative while noting the government’s anticipation for the second phase of the initiative.

“This success is indicative of what the nation can achieve with everybody working together as was the case in this first phase.

“Our women of reproductive age need to be supported to take their well-being into their hands. The government is fully behind this initiative that puts self-care back into the hands of our women”, he said.

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