Mr Akin Jimoh, Executive Director, Development Communications Network (DevComs) has advised the Nigerian government to provide for the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls in line with the 2020 World Population Day (WPD).
According him, the 2020 WPD focuses on raising awareness of women’s and girls’ needs for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and vulnerabilities during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that World Population Day is commemorated annually on July 11.
The 2020 theme is: “ Putting the brakes on COVID-19: how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls now’’.
“It aims to raise awareness about the sexual and reproductive health needs and vulnerabilities of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It also aims to highlight how to safeguard gains and ensure that SRHR stays on the local agenda, and to explore how to maintain the momentum towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 as agreed at the Nairobi Summit.’’
Development Communications Network is a media support organisation with resources to help journalists in reporting science, public health and social sector issues.
Jimoh told NAN in Lagos on Saturday that it is imperative that the government provides adequate protection against adversities arising from the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on SRH needs of women and girls in the country.
“Evidence has shown that the pandemic has made women and girl’s more vulnerable with dire consequences, including sexual violence, rape, unplanned pregnancy, various other hazards and loss of lives.
“Women and girls make up over 49 per cent of the total population in Nigeria (World Bank) and it is highly imperative that the needs of half the population of the country be prioritised to enhance gender equality for all.
“Majority of women and girls in the country still live in extreme poverty, are out of school or not aware of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).
“ These have rendered the group vulnerable as a result of lack of equal opportunities compared to their male counterpart, especially amidst the pandemic,’’ he said.
Earlier in a statement, he had also said that there was need for sustainable public information dissemination as a first step to address the vulnerabilities revolving around SRH challenges of women and girls.
“This is in order for them to live a healthy life even in the face of COVID-19.
“A good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system (UNFPA 2020).
“ It implies that women and girls are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.
“A lot of women and girls are not aware of their SRHR.
“ To maintain a healthy sexual and reproductive health women and girls need access to quality and accurate information on safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception of choice.’’
Jimoh said that another major way to addressing SRH vulnerabilities of women and girls is to make available modern contraceptives/family planning (FP) commodities and supplies, including menstrual health and hygiene items
. “This is because these items are central to adolescents’ girls and women’s health, empowerment, and the exercise of sexual and reproductive health and rights as these groups can be disproportionately affected by the pandemic (UNFPA, 2020).
“The media advocacy project on FP by DevComs Network, in partnership with the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI), The Challenge Initiative (TCI), alongside governments at all levels has proven the media to be a strategic tool to sensitizing women and girls on their SRH rights.
“ DevComs Network in collaboration with TCI is currently training and mentoring journalists across media organisations in 13 states across the country,” he said.
Also, Akinpelumi Akinlolu, Head of Operations, DevComs, said: “The future of our women and girls can be managed wisely.
“Doing otherwise can lead to a chain of negative consequences including morbidity and mortality and population explosion, among target groups.
“The need to empower women and the girl child is urgent and imperative,’’ Akinlolu said.
Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/ Felix Ajide (NAN)
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