Improve Reproductive Healthcare Services, Expert Tasks Stakeholders

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A medical expert, Dr Ufuoma Obi, regional director, Options Consultancy Services, has called for concerted efforts to address challenges affecting efficient delivery of reproductive healthcare services in the country.

Obi made the call in an interview in Abuja that the country was struggling to meet the universal access to reproductive healthcare by 2030.

He said that the data on reproductive health as indicated in the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey/National Immunization Coverage Survey (MICS/NICS), 2021, published by the National Bureau of Statistics was very disturbing.

He explained that the report highlighted substantial disparities in access to reproductive health services between urban and rural areas.

He said, this underscored the need for targeted policies, increased funding, and comprehensive education for improved reproductive health services that leaves no one behind.

According to him, addressing the challenge requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders.

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“With targeted policies, increased funding, and comprehensive education and health services, Nigeria can make significant strides towards achieving universal reproductive healthcare by 2030.

“We need targeted policies that address the peculiar needs of both urban and rural populations.

“Increased funding for healthcare infrastructure and training and retraining of healthcare personnel are equally crucial, he stated.

The regional director highlighted the importance of education in improving reproductive health outcomes, noting that comprehensive education programmes on family planning and reproductive health could empower individuals to make informed decisions.

“We must also ensure that contraceptive methods are readily available and accessible to all women,” he added.

Obi further called for urgent action to reduce maternal and child mortality rates, describing strengthening of antenatal and delivery care services, particularly in rural areas, as very critical.

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He particularly called for concerted efforts to address the socio-economic barriers that prevent women from accessing reproductive health services in health facilities.

The MICS/NICS report indicated a high fertility rate of 4.6 children per woman, with an average of 3.6 per woman in urban areas compared with the 5.4 children among rural women.

The report also shows 75 live births per 1,000 adolescent females, which is significantly higher in rural areas at 108 per 1,000 adolescents than in urban areas with just 32 per 1,000 adolescents.

On antenatal care coverage, the report shows that only 69.6 per cent of pregnant women are receiving care at least once from skilled health personnel.

The rate varies significantly across regions, with Imo achieving 96.8 per cent coverage while the coverage in Sokoto state was only 30.5 per cent.

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The report further shows that only 49 per cent of births occur in healthcare facilities.

“This highlighted the gap in delivery care, especially in rural areas where the rate was just 34.5 per cent compared to 74.3 per cent in urban areas.”

Contraceptive use among married women also remained low according to the report which put it as low as 18.2 per cent for modern methods.

The report indicated a higher usage rate of 27 per cent in urban areas compared to the 12.2 per cent in rural areas.

The low uptake underscores the barriers to family planning services and education among other reproductive health issues.

 

 

 

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