... Uptake of permanent method, implant, IUD doubled during Lockdown – Effiom
One of Marie Stopes Ladies during the lockdown.
Despite the fact that thousands of unintended pregnancies were prevented, 3,968 estimated maternal deaths averted, 19,781 estimated child deaths prevented, 279, 538 estimated unsafe abortions prevented by Marie Stopes International Organisation Nigeria, MSION, there is still need for caution because the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously affecting access to Family Planning commodities and other reproductive health matters.
Speaking at a webinar meeting organised by MSION in partnership with Network of Reproductive Health Journalists in Nigeria, NRHJN, MSION’ s Country Director, Effiom Effiom made it known that there is increase in gender based violence which affaffects sexual reproductive health services.
One of Marie Stopes Ladies doing community talk with clients
Talking about MSION Perspective: Sustaining Family Planning & Sexual Reproductive Health Services Delivery Amidst COVID-19, Mr. Effiom revealed that 772, 628 persons across Nigeria were using a family planning method provided through one of MSION’s service delivery channels.
He stated that experience has shown that
people emerged from lockdown with reproductive health emergencies – unintended pregnancies, sexual rights violations etc.and women’s inability to access service predispose them to reproductive health risks, such as unintended pregnancies and complications of Sexually Transmitted Infections, STIs.
“We also have logistics challenges that impacted SRH commodity distribution and availability.
So also is safety concerns amongst health providers caused by infection among colleagues.
“We set up an internal COVID-19 response team with real time responses based on updates from teams across the country.
We secured approvals (Pass) from National and State ministries of Health that enabled our teams move and work as essential health workers even in most difficult locations and across states.”
According to him, MSION deployed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all team members and service providers including use of handheld thermometers, sanitisers, facemasks etc. to ensure safety of clients and staff as well as increased supply of commodities & consumables.
“We also mainstreamed COVID-19 prevention messages into FP health talk across all channels and locations: our staff provide health talk on COVID-19 before every engagement: mobilisation and service delivery.
“We developed COVID-19 demand creation guidelines that sustained mobilisation of clients for FP and SRH services. Greater use of community structures and gatekeepers town announcers, door to door mobilisation while avoiding crowd or clustering.”
Other initiatives introduced iinclude daily tracking of productivity of each team to ensure MSION constantly maintain good value for operational investment made during the COVID-19 period, online engagement, among others.
“We used social media to educate audiences on Covid-19 and reinforced that MSION Clinics were open as well as do home delivery service.
A Home Delivery system was launched that delivered Contraceptives, Drugs (prescription and refills) and in some cases, take samples for Laboratory tests for clients that requested.”
He mentioned client pick-up and drop-off where client couldn’t get to the Clinics due to transportation constraints, clients were picked up with Clinic car for a fee and brought to the Clinic for services.
“Telemedicine hinged on the doctor having phone consultation with the clients when results were ready, and guiding them accordingly on next steps to take.”
Also, community-based Marie Stopes Ladies (low cadre healthcare providers) are making it possible for communities to access services during the lockdown.
“Activities of team members were limited to within base locations while using technology (especially WhatsApp) to support providers outside of base location remotely. MSION worked with State FP Coordinators (e.g. Niger, Benue and Nasarawa states) to support demand for FP via house-to-house distribution.”
“Robust digital marketing engagements for Family Planning product portfolio. MSION toll free call centre (08000022252) remained in operation despite the lockdown to respond and provide confidential, non-judgmental and professional sexual reproductive health advice and referral for individuals.”
In addition, services were said to have been offered in English, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and Pidgin.
Despite the lockdown and movement restrictions in the wake of the COVID pandemic, Mr Effiom said that MSION continued to provide essential sexual and reproductive health services
“MSION frontline health workers in 2,345 public health facilities, 167 community-based delivery Network of Marie Stopes Ladies, 220 social franchise, three MSI centres of excellence and 23 mobile outreach teams have continued to provide service in the lockdown .”
More importantly, Effiom revealed that uptake of permanent method, implant, and IUD doubled within the period.
Also speaking during the ZOOM meeting, the Director/Head Reproductive Health Division, FMoH, Dr Kayode Afolabi on Sustaining FP & Sexual Reproductive Health Services Delivery Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic, stated that government is doing a lot to ensure that women have unhindered access to quality healthcare.
Dr. Afolabi mentioned safe motherhood (SMH) services -aimed at improving maternal and newborn health with reduction in maternal mortality ratio and Mortality Rate through promotion of Antenatal Care Visits, delivery at health facilities, skilled attendance at birth, provision of essential medicines and equipment, etc.
However, he mentioned the fact that the agility of supply chain were exposed because manufacturing, shipping logistics slowed or halted.
UNFPA estimated that 47 million women may lose access to modern contraception if the situation continues for 6 months and could lead to nearly 7 million unintended pregnancies.
“Supplies Updates projections of stockout risks for contraceptives and MH medicines in the next 6 months among the 46 UNFPA Supplies countries further emphasised risk of stockouts for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives – IUDs and implants Injectables and Pills each affecting more than 20 countries with 10 countries at risk of stock out of Condoms.” Afolabi explained.
“There was initial poor coordination of RH/FP Service provision due to prohibition of meetings & gatherings at National & State levels. RH/FP services were not prioritised in the initial COVID-19 Response Plan at National & State levels.”
He pointed out that there was delay in clearing some of the contraceptive commodities from the port due to restriction of movement & non-compliance with government’s directive on continued normal port operations
According to him, unavailability of PPEs at service delivery points (SDPs) posed a potential increased risk of contracting COVID-19 by HCWs and FP clients, hence, uptake of FP services sharply declined.
“A Virtual Meeting was held with the State Reproductive Health Coordinators and State Family Planning Coordinators to discuss status of reproductive health/family planning implementation in the states and to agree on key tasks to sustain services.” Afolabi concluded.