SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE HON. DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND SANITATION II MADAM MADINA RAHMAN AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING CAMPAIGN MIATTA CONFERENCE CENTRE 8TH SEPTEMBER 2015
THEME: “CHILDREN BY CHOICE, NOT BY CHANCE”
Mr. Chairman, UN Resident Coordinator, UNFPA Country Representative, Implementing Partners, DG National AIDS Secretariat, Colleagues from Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Religious Leaders, Members from the 4th Estate, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We are here for a very simple reason, Sierra Leonean women should be able to decide freely, for themselves, whether, when and how many children they should have.
“Children should be by choice and not by chance”
Sierra Leone, like many other African countries, has a high maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate of 1,165 per 100,000 live births and 92 per 1,000 live births respectively. Family planning has been identified as one of the three major pillars in reducing maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate.
Health Economists world over have data to prove that family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments a nation can make to improve the health and save the lives of mothers and children.
When a woman is prevented from choosing when to have children, it’s not just a violation of her human rights; it can fundamentally compromise her chances in life and the opportunities for her children. Without family planning pregnancy will often come too early.
A survey by UNICEF Sierra Leone found that two fifth of girls give birth for the first time between the ages of 12 and 14 years. These young girls are not ready physically, mentally or financially to become mothers. They don’t want to give up school or the chance to develop better lives for themselves.
And yet suddenly their dreams are broken as they become trapped in a potentially, life threatening pregnancy. These life threatening pregnancies may leads to increase risk of post-partumhemorrhage, sepsis, cephalopelvic disproportion and finally maternal and neonatal death.
The fear of Ebola infection and misconception by the communities due to Ebola Virus Disease outbreak reduced the utilization of all health services including family planning. Analysis of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Demographic Health Information System data on family planning utilization in 2014 showed a drop in uptake of family planning services considerably.
Acknowledging the crucial role of family planning in reducing the incidence of these life threatening pregnancies, and as Sierra Leone is counting towards zero plus 42 days, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has prioritized family planning in its nine months and six years post recovery plans, that seeks to restore essential health services and building a resilient health system.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation through its Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme is restoring family planning services using the Supply Enabling Environment and Demand (SEED) programme model creation in the post Ebola recovery plan.
· Ministry of Health and Sanitation and its partners are expanding static centre and outreach mobile clinic services throughout the country to meet the demand.
· Contraceptive supplies are provided through UNFPA, Global Programme for Reproductive Health Commodity Security programme to meet the demands.
· Health care workers are been trained on delivery of quality family planning services. Recently the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme completed the training of 160 Health Care Workers on insertion and removal of implants specifically Jadelle. These implant trainings have increased the utilization of implant to such an extent that it had the highest couple of years of protection for January to June 2015 data analysis
An international Consultant is in country to work with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme to do a training of trainers for 20 Health Care Workers and a cascade training for 20 providers on IUD insertion and removal Reproductive Health and Family Planning programme is also collaborating with Helen Keller International to provide integrated family planning and Infant and Young Child feeding in normal child health service in September 2015
· The Ministry of Health and Sanitation have established quality monitoring and supportive system using the quick investigation of quality system. This system uses three tools, facility audit, client exit interview and provider observation checklist to strengthen evidence based monitoring of family planning programme in the country.
· The Ministry of Health and Sanitation and UNFPA Sierra Leone Country Office contracted Oxford Policy Management to conduct a prospective cost benefit analysis of family planning services in Sierra Leone in early 2014. Using the one health tool, the analysis Modeled the impact that family planning programme will have on the population and development over three scenarios 2015 MDG deadline, 2017 PRSP III deadline and 2015 target for being a middle-income country, and knock-on impact on key social services. The analysis proved that every dollar spent on family planning would save more than 2 dollars in other social services and maternal mortality rate can be decreased from 125 in 2013 to 65 in 2035. We are going to continue using this information to advocate for more funding for family planning.
· A task shifting pilot is going to be implemented by MOHS in the last quarter of this year to evaluate the possible expansion of implant services using Maternal Child Health Aides so as to influence policy change.
· MOHS with support from UNFPA and other Implementing Partners have developed Reproductive Health Commodity Security Strategy; national family planning training manual for trainers and participant. These are on display in this hall.
· A costed implementation plan for family planning programme will be developed by the end of 2015 for the first time. This will be used to strengthen advocacy and support for family planning.
· MOHS with support from UNFPA has developed and implemented CHANNEL software system which is the national LMIS system being used by National Public Procurement Unit (NPPU) to distribute family planning commodities that is integrated with the free health care distribution.
· MOHS with support from UNFPA is collaborating with Civil Society organization, like Health for all Coalition to increase the accountability of family planning commodities from Central Medical Stores to Districts Medical Stores. This has increased the percentage of drugs accounted for from 50% in 2010 to 99.7% in 2013.
· The MOHS with support from its partners has started demand creation in the form of national campaigns like what is happening today. This will continue as family planning will be integrated into the Maternal and Child Health Week (MCHW) in November and in any Maternal and Child Health Week in the future.
· A Communication Technical Working Group has been established to facilitate demand creation.
· Already, the MOHS with support from UNFPA has developed and printed Information Education Communication and Behavioral Communication Change family planning materials. These materials are on display in this hall and some are already in the health facilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have set ambitious goals and today, we are reconfirming our commitment and collaboration to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our families.
All sectors have critical roles to play in expanding access to high quality family planning products and services.
We cannot do it alone. The MOHS in collaboration with its development partners will ensure that every woman has the tools she needs to safeguard her health and that of her children.
Emphasis will be placed on outreach interventions in marginalize and hard-to-reach rural communities.
On that note, it is my honor and privilege to launch this Family Planning Campaign for the month of September 2015 to increase family planning services and provide choice for the women and girls of Sierra Leone.
I thank you.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.