Integrating Family Planning into MNCH Week Yields Significant Increase in New Acceptors in Niger State
After The Challenge Initiative worked with Niger State officials in Nigeria to ensure family planning information and services were integrated into Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) week, a dramatic increase was seen in the number of family planning acceptors. The state along with UNICEF sponsors MNCH week to expand coverage of essential MNCH services. The chart below shows the average weekly number of new acceptors in November 2018, December 2018, January 2019 and for MNCH week, which took place in February 2-8, 2019. Including family planning as part of the services provided yielded significant increases in seven of the nine local government areas (LGAs) where TCI works: Bosso, Chanchaga, Gurara, Kontagora, Mokwa, Suleja and Tafa. The other two – Bida and Paikoro – saw smaller increases.
Previously, MNCH week in Niger State focused solely on nutrition and immunization with no family planning services offered. TCI advocated for the inclusion of family planning and provided coaching support to the State’s Family Planning coordinator, monitoring and evaluation focal person and the logistics officer along with the LGA’s Family Planning Coordinators and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Coordinators in 40 facilities in the nine TCI-supported LGAs. The MCH Coordinators spoke to parents about the advantages of family planning, including the methods available, while their children were being assessed for malnutrition and offered immunizations. Family planning services were provided by the MCH Coordinators, who are also trained family planning providers. In addition, the MCH Coordinators provided referrals to clients interested in family planning but not yet ready to seek services.
Another reason MNCH week was so successful was because clients who accessed family planning services that week enjoyed heavily subsidized services. As a result, sustaining the momentum post-MNCH week may be a challenge as clients seeking services will have to pay out-of-pocket fees for consumables. TCI plans to work with its partners to ensure no opportunities are missed to leverage already-planned events and platforms like MNCH week.