The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners have begun implementing the approved Task-sharing and Task-shifting Policy for essential healthcare services which authorize lower cadres of health workers including Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) to administer implants and intra-uterine contraceptive devices (IUCDS) other than Nurse and Midwives only.
This is because the numbers of Community Health Extension Workers outnumber the Nurses working in the Primary Healthcare centers in the rural area, and there is great need to provide family planning service to the women in the rural areas.
Having selected Kaduna and Ondo state as pilot states to kick start the programme, the Federal Ministry of Health, supported by Marie Stopes International Nigeria and other partners trained Community Health Extension Workers in the two states to insert and remove implants and IUCDs contraceptives in women who require the services in rural areas.
Speaking during the dissemination of reports from studies conducted in the two States Kaduna and Ondo on the trial programme, in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said that one of the major barrier for accessing family planning in Nigeria is shortage and unequitable distribution of the appropriates cadres of health workforce to deliver healthcare services where they are most needed.
“There are shortage of virtually all the cadres of healthcare workers resulting in poor utilization of many of our health facilities for essential services” the Minister said.
He added that the development of National Task-sharing and Task-shifting policy was aimed at increasing access to services such as family planning in Nigeria.
Adewole said that the Federal Ministry of Health approved the National Task-Shifting and Task-sharing policy for essential healthcare services in Nigeria in October 2014 as a key step to addressed the problem of health workforce shortage with anticipated adaptation and implementation at all levels of National health system.
“Let me reiterate that the National Task-Shifting and Task Sharing policy was not designed to take away task from any professional group but rather to make the best use of the cadres of staff currently employed and deployed to health facilities across the country.” Adewole noted
In his remarks the Country Director, Marie Stopes Nigeria Pharm. Effiong E. Effiong, said that Marie Stope Nigeria had supported Federal Ministry of Health and the State Ministries of Health in capacity building of CHEWs to implement the Task-sharing and Task-shifting policy in the two states.
He said that the study evaluated whether CHEWs could insert implants and contraceptives services as safely as Nurses and midwives can do and it had been proven that with adequate training CHEWs can performed as well as Nurses and Midwives.