The Challenge Initiative (TCI) is currently supporting Edo State in Nigeria to own and drive its family planning (FP) and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) program. TCI has been demonstrating its high-impact practices and other interventions (HIPs & HIIs) across nine local government areas (LGAs) and 30 health facilities in Edo State and providing technical assistance to scale up these HIPs & HIIs in the state’s remaining LGAs and health facilities.
During a recent learning visit to Edo State, TCI’s management team engaged with high-level stakeholders at the State Ministry of Health (MOH) and Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) with the aim of cross learning, evaluating program performance in the state’s first year, and developing improvement plans to adaptively manage its program based on the outcome of the visit.
The Executive Secretary (ES) in Edo State has undertaken five leadership reforms that align with TCI’s HIPS & HIIs and technical assistance approach: Infrastructure, Drug Revolving Fund, Community Involvement and Participation, Governance and Leadership, and Human Resource. While elaborating on these reforms during the learning visit, the Director Community and Family Health representing the ES said:
The agency has enjoyed a cordial working relationship with TCI. We have to look for practical ways to make things work. …What are the quick wins we can leverage to achieve and get things done? I appreciate the technical assistance from TCI which has helped to cushion the effect of inadequate manpower. We will continue to work together!”
The Acting Director of Planning, Research and Statistics said:
The agency is ready to collaborate and own the program because in all aspects we are talking of ownership. It is just like a stranger coming to my house and telling me this is where I sleep, the bathroom is here, the toilet is here; meaning myself I have not done my work. So if we are looking at it, we should even be the one saying oh! This is the work, this is what we are doing and just to give you feedback.”
On the strength of the partnership and continued health governance, she added:
With the support from the agency and the Executive Secretary, this partnership will work and give the desired result.”
Reacting to a number of challenges affecting program implementation in the state – in particular, the poor response to funding FP/AYSRH activities, poor coordination of the RH/FP program and poor data reporting of service uptake on DHIS 2 – the Director of Laboratory Services representing the Honorable Commissioner for Health and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health said:
As for budgets, memo and all, we will do better and I know how you feel. We apologize and promise to do better.”
The learning visit provided an opportunity for insightful deliberations with key stakeholders and brought on a positive outlook for advancing not just reproductive health and family planning outcomes but all health outcomes in Edo State.