Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki

Family planning and child spacing have received a major boost in Ebonyi state as no fewer than 50 health centres across the 13 Local Government Areas of the State recently benefitted from equipment from a development partner, Marie Stopes International Organization Nigeria.

Also, 40 nurses selected from various hospitals have been trained on the family planning services best practices. As such, they are to provide such services in the various hospitals where they serve.

In addition, more health workers will be trained to join the already trained 40 nurses from April 7-14.

Some of the items donated include: 105 packs of implant, 105 packs of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials, 50 pieces of Alligator Forceps, 50 pieces of Cheadle Forceps, 21 pieces of sieve, 21 pieces of transparent dish, 21 pieces of light box, 21 pieces of kidney dish, 200 pieces of site markers, and 3 pieces of roll up banners.

Speaking during the donation in Abakaliki, the state capital, the Regional Manager of the group in the South East zone, Mr Ibekwe Samuel, said the essence of the donation was to support the health sector in the state especially as it affects family planning.

He said that the benefits of child spacing was enormous; hence, the organization’s interest in exposing these benefits to the people and of course, encourage them to queue in and enjoy same.

Ibekwe, who disclosed the training programmes for the nurses, said that IEC materials have also been provided to help in awareness creation about the family planning so that the people of the state would get to know about it and benefit from it.

He further explained that 50 health centres are currently being supported by Marie Stopes in the state and the donated family planning equipment was made for their use.

He, therefore, appealed to the state government to save the lives of mothers by improving on the family planning services and assured that Ebonyi would receive more support from the organization as long as their sponsor sustained the provisions of their requirements.

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Ibekwe, however, told the women of the state that health centres where the family planning services were being rendered have a special logo for easy identification.

According to him, “Ebonyi women should always remember that green dot logo is family planning logo and should access the service from anywhere they see the logo.”

Commenting on the development, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Daniel Umezurike, expressed excitement about the kind gestures. He described family planning as a very important project that should be taken seriously by Nigerian government for better future of the country.

Umezurike, represented by the Executive Secretary of Ebonyi State Primary Health Development Agency, Dr Nwali Okata, pointed out that family planning was a very critical issue that requires the collaboration and contribution from different levels of government and individuals for the right result to be achieved.

He said: “If we are talking about getting Nigeria to develop infrastructures, industrially, the issue of family planning should be handled with every amount of seriousness it deserves because if we have effective family planning policy, we will be able to meet the needs of the people.”

Okata lamented that some parents, especially in the northern part of the country; give birth to children without making adequate plan for their education, health care delivery, and other similar requirements to support life.

He called for more sensitization and advocacy on the health aspect so that its aims and objectives could be achieved.

Thanking Maria Stopes for training community health extension workers to help reach out to the integral parts of the state, the Director of Family Planning, State Ministry of Heath, Mrs. Maria Orji, assured them that the Ministry will continue to work hard to provide quality family planning services to Ebonyi women as the state is working to increase the number of trained health workers on family planning /child birth spacing.

Two health workers from Unagboke Health Centre and Iboko Health Centre, Mrs. Christy Kalu and Eze Oluchi respectively, in their separate speeches, thanked Marie Stopes for bringing the equipment as they would reduce maternal mortality in the state.

They described it as an opportunity long expected and assured that it would boost their services to the women who want to access family planning services in the state.