By Iliya Kure
Kaduna State Government was celebrated in 2018 for being the first state in Nigeria to procure and distribute consumables to all public owned facilities providing Family Planning Services.
The procurement attracted several other accolades in the family planning circle in Nigeria, because the State Government had demonstrated leadership among states in the country.
It was the first known state in the nation to have created a budget line in 2017 and allocated large sum of money (N100 million) for procurement of family planning consumables – the commodities were supplied free of charge by the federal government.
By 2018, the family planning budget allocation in the state dropped to N75 million, partly due to non-utilisation of the 2017 allocated funds. Following several advocacies, the state government shot up the allocation to an unprecedented figure of N147.6 million in its 2019 budget.
The annual allocations appeared to be a sign of the State Government’s commitment to fund family planning activities. But the allocation was not supported with cash – they were more of figures on the paper with no matching money to implement the budget in demonstration of the genuineness of the commitment.
Responsible officers who requested the 2017 budgeted funds were issued paper releases by the Ministry of Budget and Planning, but the Ministry of Finance was not able to pay a kobo to the officers to utilise the allocations.
Looking deeper, the funds were not paid by the Ministry of Finance partly due to the system adopted by the state government at that time, where a liquidity committee headed by the state Governor had to give final approval on each budget line based on priority, before cash was issued out.
This singular act of not approving any of the requested family planning funds by the liquidity committee was the beginning of setback in family planning programming in Kaduna State.
Aside the N75 million budget line of 2018. The budgeted figure of N100 million in 2017 was revalidated in 2018, yet, nothing came out of it.
However, in 2018, the Drug Management Agency (DMA), in an effort to remedy the situation went ahead to contract a vendor who supplied the state with family planning consumables to the tune of N97.9 million naira.
The consumables have been distributed to all facilities in the state running the services – but over a year after the supply of the consumables, information available shows that the contractor is yet to be paid his money.
Reaction from Health Supplies Management Agency
The Kaduna State Health Supplies Management Agency (KSHSMA) had expressed fear that no contractor may want to supply the state again with consumables since the last vendor had not been paid his money.
Executive Director of the Agency, Ramatu Abdulkadir, told visiting members of Family Health Advocates in Nigeria Initiative (FHANI), who were in her office on an advocacy, that the chances of getting another contractor to supply the products to the state was slim, because the amount owed the last contractor was huge and had not been paid.
She expressed the hope that the Ministry of Finance, which was responsible for the payment, would speed up the process and pay the contractor on time to help regain the confidence of contractors who supply drugs to the state.
Reaction from family planning Stakeholders
FHANI leadership had expressed fear that the gains achieved in mobilising women of reproductive age in the state to adopt family planning will erode if action was not taken on time.
Chairman of the group, Bala Tijjani said, the world had celebrated Kaduna State for the leadership demonstrated in the procurement of the consumables, it would be devastating if the state fails to keep up with the tempo.
“Women who need the services have started going to facilities in high number to access the services, the state must take every step to sustain this feat,” he said.
Also, stakeholders at a recent Media Parley on Family Planning organised by Pathfinder International in Kaduna have expressed concern that the state Government must not allow non-payment of contractors to hamper the provision of a valuable service to women who genuinely need them.
One of the Journalists, who is also a family planning advocate, Mohammad Ibrahim, said, “I call on the Kaduna state government to pay the contractor that supplied the 2018 consumables, so as to enable the responsible agency engage him again to supply the 2019 allocation.
“These consumables are needed by women in the state, it needs to be delivered to them at all the points where services are needed,” he said.
Coordinator of Africa Media development Foundation (AMDF), Sekyen Dadik, said, “Kaduna state government has given impression that it is a leader in family planning investment, it must therefore take every necessary step to ensure women are provided these services, especially at this crucial time, failure to do that will send a negative picture,” she said.
Senior Programme Advisor (Reproductive Health), Pathfinder international, Abuja Country office, Dr. Sakina Bello, also appealed to the state government to pay the contractor to avoid delay in further supply which may affect family planning programming in the state.
“As advocates, last year we celebrated the step taken by Kaduna state in supplying consumables to meet the family planning needs of women in the state. It is not pleasant to hear that the supplier has not been paid his money.
I appeal to the state government to hasten steps and pay the contractor so that more supplies will be made and women will continue to access services free of charge,” she said
Would there be negative consequences?
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), family planning has the power to help a country reduce its maternal deaths by up to 30%. This implies that Kaduna state can reduce its maternal death burden significantly, through family planning uptake by women in the state.
The state has almost 2 million women who need to be on family planning (based on 2006 population census projection). This explained the concern among family planning stakeholders in the state.
Since mid-2018, till may 2019, the state had experienced stock out of commodities. This had impacted negatively on the family planning indices of the state – there was a sharp drop in the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), i. e. the number of women practicing family planning in the state. Data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed a drop from 24% to 12% (among the 2 million women).
The drop of the 12 percentage points was within one year. It goes to show how devastating a simple delay of taking an action can be.
Prior to the supply of consumables by the state government in 2018, women from low income homes were not able to afford the services because they had to pay for it (between N300 – N1,000). When the consumables arrived and were distributed to the facilities, these poor women were able to access services free of charge.
If the contractor that supplied the 2018 commodities has not been paid, and no consumables are supplied in 2019, it means there will be problem in the state.
The Federal Government had recently supplied Kaduna with commodities which had been distributed to all the service delivery points in the state, what this means is that women would go to the facilities and there would be no consumables – they would be made to pay before they get services – this singular act would send many of them back home, and further cut down on the number of women taking services in the state.