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Delta Government Signs MoU To Address Family Planning Needs

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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The Delta State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Challenge Initiative (TCI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), led by the Gates Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that would enable it access over N200 million to address selected family planning needs of the State without being limited by funding ceilings.

The Delta State Commissioner for Health Dr. Nicholas Azinge made this known during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding Ceremony on behalf of the state government in Abeokuta, Ogun State recently.

Dr Azinge hinted that the implementation would afford Delta women the opportunity to have increased access to quality Family Planning Services and its consequent benefits.

According to him Delta along with Ogun, Kano, Bauchi and Niger State governments successfully passed through all the stages of the Initiative in-country and final assessment of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to participate in the Programme.

He revealed that the Initiative would expose the state to a world of possibilities which the State Family Planning Programme could utilize in ensuring increased support for and uptake of quality family support services such as the development of a State Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (CIP).

To show its commitment to the Programme, Dr. Azinge said the state through its Save One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOML PforR) used most of the N73 million dedicated for its Family Planning Programme as counterpart funding for the Programme.

Explaining further, he said this is an innovative approach towards accessing health care funding for using what you are given to attract more funds which on its own is a key success for the State Save One Million Lives Programme for Results (SOML PforR).

Speaking during the event, Dr. Victor Igharo, Programme Manager, The Challenge Initiative, Nigeria, said that the seed funding for The Challenge Initiative grant is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s (BMGF) investment towards stimulating State Government’s interest in repositioning the Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing Programme on its investment agenda.

“The Initiative believes this demand-driven model will incentivize cities to have a high level of commitment to and responsibility for serving the reproductive health needs of their citizens. The model’s three stages are intended to prime local ownership at the outset and nurture a leading role for cities in program design and implementation” said Dr. Igharo,

Throwing more light on its activities, he said the Programme offers a unique approach because interested Nigerian cities self-select to participate in the Initiative and bring their resources to the table to leverage significant resources.

Enrolment to participate and benefit from the Challenge Fund “Catalytic Grant” follows a competitive demand-driven self-selection process with states on the driving seat for planning and execution. The five participating States are Delta, Ogun, Kano, Bauchi and Niger State Governments.

Amongst the State Government delegation that facilitated the programme is Dr. Tetsola (Christian Lead) RH Coordinator, Dr. Philomena Okeowo, Director Public Health, Mr. Augustine Chizea, Director, Finance and Account and Dr. Ufuoma Aduh, Assistant Director, Public Health.