Thanks to the fantastic advocacy work of Marie Stopes Nigeria and other partners, all newly qualified community health extension workers are being taught how to insert and remove long-acting implants and IUDs as part of their pre-service training.
Northern Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an expectant mother, yet the choice of whether or when to have a child is out of many women's hands.
The federal government has committed to achieving a 36% contraceptive prevalence rate by 2018, but according to the latest Demographic Health Survey, in many northern states just 3% of women are using contraception compared to 38% in the more affluent south west.
One of the major factors is an acute shortage of health workers. This is particularly severe in rural areas where women can live miles from the nearest health centre. Often their only port of call is community health extension workers (CHEWs), who until now have only been able to provide less reliable short-term methods such as pills and condoms.
But now this new advocacy win that allows CHEWs to taskshare on implant and IUD services will offer a lifeline to rural women, and could also save the Nigerian government more than US $2 million a year compared to providing stand-alone in-service training*.
Marie Stopes Nigeria engaged the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Technical Working Group, collaborating with a core team comprised of government and civil society organisations: the federal Ministry of Health, the Community Health Practitioners Registration Board (CHPRB), the Association for Reproductive and Family Health, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Jhpiego, Palladium, Pathfinder, Society for Family Health, and USAID.
The team will now continue to work with the ministry and the CHPRB to ensure trainers are equipped to teach insertion of long-acting contraceptive methods and are training existing CHEWs.
*Based on the number of Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) graduating each year and the estimated cost from partners who have trained CHEWs using the Federal Ministry of Health-approved CHEWs training manual.