COVID-19: Experts Decry Abandonment Of Health Programmes By Federal, State Governments

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Some parts of the health sector is presently suffering setbacks as the federal and state governments have purportedly abandoned other programmes as a result of Coronavirus epidermic.

Experts in reproductive health blamed the setbacks witnessed in family planning upkeep in Delta on the  inability to access the N25 million budgeted for the programme by the state government.

The experts who spoke at a roundtable media chart in Asaba, on the theme,”Family Planning Budget Line Release; The Great Imperative in Delta State”: noted that the state government budgeted N8.5 million in 2018.

They disclosed that through pressure and painstaking demands, the budget provision was pushed up to N25 million in 2020 but regretted that the fund was never released to finance Family Planning programmes in the state.

Chairperson of the Advocacy Core Group, Mrs Rachael Obodo-Obuneli, lamented that other health programmes have been neglected while all attention has been shifted to the COVID-19.

She revealed that the Federal Government (FG)  in 2018, approved N2.9 billion as counterpart fund for the programme, but released  N300 million in 2019.

“With the current novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, governments had virtually neglected other health challenges such as; family planning, malaria among others which currently posed serious challenge in the society.

“There was no doubt that the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 had impacted negatively on the people, and most families will come down with cases of unplanned pregnancies due to lack of consumables and access to facilities.

“The budget line for federal government was between 2018 and 2019; in 2018, the federal government matched up the donor’s funding with N2.4 billion and another N500 million was also given to improve family planning through contraceptive use intervention.

“In 2019, the federal hovernment had zero budget for the programme but the sum of N300 million was released for contraceptives, this is about 90 per cent reduction in funding of the programme in the country compared to that of 2018.

“There is a very huge gap in funding the programme in the country, this is the reason why there has been shortage of commodities among others at the Primary Health Care Facilities across the country in the period under review”, she said.

Obodo-Obuneli revealed that the programme has been sustained by donor agencies within the period.

On her part, the Principal Medical Officer, Delta State University, Asaba Campus, Dr. Bobola Agbonle, stated that unless the government took decisive action, the impact of the lockdown would reflect on cases of unplanned pregnancies and population explosion.

Hear her: “We have been on the lockdown for upward of three months, since March, and come December, we are going to have explosion of babies.

“And at the same time, we are also expecting explosion of abortions because most women can take the decision to abort the unwanted pregnancies”.

She noted that child spacing through family planning helped prevent death during pregnancies, adding that the more children a woman has, exposed her to higher risk and death.

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