By Abujah Racheal
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), has expressed concern over the inability of the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N) response Plan to achieve its full objectives, three months to its expiration.
Dr Aminu Magashi, Coordinator, Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), who spoke on behalf of the CSOs, said this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports RMNCAEH+N plan was developed in 2020 with at an estimated cost of N12.1 billion to mitigate the indirect impact of COVID- 19, as well as prioritise and maintain the provision of RMNCAEH+N services.
Such services include routine immunisation, reproductive health services, care during pregnancy and childbirth, essential care for new-born, young infants and under-five children.
Magashi questioned what would become of the plan after its expiration in the next three months.
“Will it be extended or will the plan be discarded halfway, despite its potential to transform the health sector and result in the improved health status of Nigerians?”.
He said this was because “the electioneering campaign running towards to the 2023 election had since begun”.
“This, will no doubt, disrupt the implementation of the plan, considering that major actors and implementers of the plan will be moving to nooks and crannies of the country canvassing for votes.
“This, therefore, heightened the fear of the CSOs about what happens to the plan.
“The Federal Government has done well in its efforts to ensure that the plan achieves its targets.
“Even though three months to the expiration of the Plan, we have to remain optimistic that more will be achieved if the government puts more effort.”
Magashi called on the Federal Government to consider extending the plan, considering its importance to the health sector and the health of Nigerians.
He said the plan, if executed later, would bring dramatic change and improvement to the health sector and urged the government not make the mistake of discarding the plan.
“This administration may not achieve the RMNCAEH+N target 100 per cent, however, since the government is a continuum, I suggest that the plan should be sustained so that the next administration can continue with it.
“It is, however, important to stress that the government needs to increase its momentum in the implementation of the RMNCAEH+N plan so that we can achieve like 80 per cent of the target before the expiration of this first phase,” he said.
The AHBN coordinator said legislators should be interested in the 100 per cent implementation of the plan because it concerned the people across the board, including both the poor and the rich in both rural and urban areas.
“I, therefore, call on the legislators to join in mounting pressure on the government to allow for the continuation of the RMNCAEH+N plan after its expiration in the next three months,” he appealed.
The RMNCAEH+N COVID-19 response continuity plan was put together to ensure uninterrupted health services, including family planning, adolescents and youth health, and other essential health services to all Nigerians.
It is aimed at averting the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the Federal Government has taken some commendable steps to ensure the plan succeeds, the CSOs believe that the steps were not enough since they have not been able to deliver the needed results.