Press Release

Federal Ministry of Health and Gates Institute of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health launch bold initiative to address reproductive health needs in urban poor areas of Nigeria

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The Gates Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health announce the launch of the Nigeria Hub of the Challenge Initiative (TCI), a global program that aims to have a dramatic impact on reproductive health for underserved poor communities. The Initiative will be formally launched on February 23rd 2017.

Access to voluntary Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing – a key component of reproductive health – has been proven to have transformative impacts on communities and countries to promote health and prosperity. Family planning information and services give women, men, couples and adolescents the opportunity to prevent unintended pregnancy and choose whether and when to have a child unlocking their future opportunities.

Nigeria has demonstrated it’s commitment to family planning with the National Blueprint for Family Planning in 2014, which aims to achieve a National Contraceptive Prevalence Rate of 36% by 2018, to reposition the Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing  programme on its investment agenda and to ensure that all women of reproductive age (15-49 years of age) have unhindered access to modern family planning/child birth spacing methods of their choice. This sets the stage to ensure the necessary shift in Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing  programming at the structural, service and community levels.

The Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Adewole during the November 2016 national family planning conference in Abuja made a bold commitment to family planning. He said “our commitment is that in spite of the downturn in the economy we would continue to meet all our obligations…. to put three Million Dollar per year and for 2017 we will increase it to 4 million US Dollar.”

The Initiative builds on the success of the pioneering Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) which contributed to increased CPR (average of 11.5 percentage points) in 6 cities (FCT, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna, Benin, and Zaria). The second phase of NURHI will contribute to the achievement of the national family planning goal of 36% mCPR by 2018 in Kaduna, Lagos and Oyo States.

The Challenge Initiative’s Nigeria Hub will encourage states to invest their own resources in Family Planning/Child Birth Spacing, and to implement proven strategies and models, such as NURHI. TCI is designed with these innovative features:

  • Demand-driven and city-led: Cities choose to participate and run their program with support from the Initiative
  • Access to a Challenge Fund: A highly-leveraged investment platform enables donors to support effective urban programs
  • Entrepreneurial approach: Regional accelerator hubs operate on lean funding and build in efficient and cost-effective programming
  • TCI University: This learning platform offers orientation and practical support, including program tools, training sessions, technical coaching and continuous learning through a community of practice
  • Visionary financing framework: The Initiative’s technical assistance and development financing offers a novel approach that can be used for other sectors

The Challenge Initiative is a new paradigm for expanding proven solutions to new locations:

The Challenge Initiative offers a unique approach because interested Nigerian cities self-select to participate in the Initiative and bring their resources to the table in order to leverage significant resources and be able to provide high quality family planning and reproductive health services to those in need,” said Mojisola Odeku, Portfolio Director of NURHI.

Interested states or cities will make proposals to implement a package of family planning interventions that are cost-effective and customized to their urban needs and circumstances, developed with assistance from the Initiative. Cities with the most promising proposals will receive technical expertise from the Nigeria accelerator hub anchored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs for project design and implementation, as well as financial support from the Initiative’s Challenge Fund.

The launch of The Challenge Initiative in Nigeria on the 23rd February 2017 will create a synergy of actions amongst key players in reproductive health in Nigeria and showcase the Initiative to potential beneficiaries, funders and partners, including representatives from local philanthropic organizations, foundations and corporations.

With the Challenge Initiative, participating Nigerian states will be able to meet the growing demand for voluntary family planning/Child Birth Spacing, particularly among the urban poor, and break the cycle of poverty. Family planning and reproductive health gives women, families, and communities a brighter future.

“The Challenge Initiative (TCI) Nigeria will work with states to apply the winning formula of success based on interest and readiness to adapt the NURHI model or any slice of the model for change” said Dr. Victor Igharo, Program Manager of The Challenge Initiative Nigeria.


About The Challenge Initiative

The Challenge Initiative(TCI) is a global urban reproductive health program dedicated to improving access to modern contraceptives among the urban poor in the developing world. The Initiative is led by the Gates Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Initiative’s regional accelerator hubs are led by technical teams of urban reproductive health experts and may be expanded as more countries participate.

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