Nigeria Launches National Guideline On Self-Care To Improve Sexual, Reproductive And Maternal Health

As part of efforts to reduce the burden of care at health facilities and improve access to sexual, reproductive and Maternal health services, Nigeria has launched the National Guideline on Self- care. The guideline which was launched on Wednesday 9th March 2022, along with Family Planning 2030 documents and several other policy documents was adopted by Nigeria in 2020 through a highly consultative process led by the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Launch which happened at the official unveiling of Nigeria’s Family Planning 2030 (FP2030) commitment and other documents will provide direction on the roles and responsibilities of the Federal, State and LGAs as well as the private sector in creating an enabling environment for the provision of Self-care services in the country.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire during the launch said Self-care initiative became acceptable in Nigeria following the rapid increase in the country’s population and the pressure on health facility to deliver quality care. He added that communities and people are supported and introduced to self-care to reduce the burden of care for health workers.

He went on to highlight the importance of health promotion and the relationship with self-care.

The WHO self-care guideline is domesticated and approved by Nigeria making it the first
country to adopt and implement Self-care in-country.

Speaking on the national guideline on self-care, Dr. Adewole Adefalu, Country Coordinator of the Access Collaborative project of PATH/JSI said the launch provided policy backing for self-care in Nigeria.

He noted that Self-care empowers individuals and communities to take decisions about their health by themselves and reduce the burden of influx of patients in health facilities.

“This is yet another milestone for us to see Self-care launched and witnessed by various stakeholders especially with state stakeholders who will be the implementers of the guideline where the guideline” he added

“So far there is political will and with the availability of Self-care products like the Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate Subcutaneous (DMPA-SC), malaria and HIV self-test kits as well as pregnancy self-testing kits, we have seen people begin to take ownership, positioning them to enjoy the benefit of self-awareness.

The private sector engagement strategy create the template for improving access through a total market for family planning. We’re excited that the govt. has taken this laudable step to plan on how to engage this sector. “The need for self-care was manifested more during COVID lockdowns” said Christy Asala, National Coordinator White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria.

Self-care is a roadmap for Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage and empowers people to live healthy with or without the help of a healthcare provider. Asala also called on other stakeholders to join in the self-care journey especially now that community healthcare workers are being sensitized about self-care to understand, practice and improve the demand for self-care products at community levels.

At a time when resources are overstretched in Nigeria’s health space, the Self-care intervention is not only convenient for patients but will play a critical role in reducing government health expenditure and burden of care at health facilities and also accelerate Nigeria’s progress towards attaining UHC.

The Federal Ministry of Health along with partners like the WHO, Society for Family Health, Pathfinder International, ARFH, Access Collaborative project of John Snow Inc. and White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria, have engaged about 14 states in the last one year to advocate for the implementation of the guideline.