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UNFPA Boosts Nigeria’s Reproductive Health Programmes With $75 Million

UNFPA wants to ensure that women don’t die giving birth. women to

Angela Onwuzoo

The United Nations Population Fund says it has earmarked $75 million to boost reproductive health services and data generation in Nigeria. The Executive Director of UNFPA, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, revealed this in Abuja weekend. According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Osotimehin said the amount covers the value of the seventh UNFPA Country Programme between 2014 and 2017 in Nigeria. Osotimehin said that the figure budgeted would be sourced from the core funding of $29.2 million, while the non-core source would contribute $45.8 million. He said UNFPA has been in Nigeria since its inception in 1969, participating in numerous activities in the country. “We have always been working with the Nigerian formations, either regions or states; we also work with Civil Society Organisations.

“What we do in essence is to work with government to ensure that women and girls’ lives are cherished so they go to school and stay in school. “So that women, when they are ready can have their children safely and also space their birth, to ensure they don’t die giving birth. “And they can have the number of children they can afford to have without any issue or coercion; these are the things we do”. The executive director said UNFPA will also collaborate with government to conduct a census, the data generated to assist government in its projections and planning. He said at present, the UNFPA is discussing with the National Population Commission on the 2016 national headcount. Osotimehin said the greatest cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria is childhood pregnancy, which constitutes between 30 and 40 per cent of the burden.

He encouraged women to plan their families. “We encourage women to take family planning; it enables them to take control of their lives. “When you talk to women and ask them, they will tell you I have six children, but if I had the choice I would rather have three or four. “The problem always is that they don’t have the opportunity to make such choices, the choices can be made if they have access to the commodities,” said the UNFPA boss. He said the UNFPA ensures that women who want to space their children and have the number of children they want access to these services. Osotimehin said in recent years and with the insurgency, the UNFPA worked in North East to provide assistance to in capacity building to government and civil society organisations on issues of the communities. “It is beyond women and children who are the target of our (work), it is about communities who suffered tremendously from the insurgency.

“Many communities have been totally vanquished, we needed to work with these communities to enable them revive themselves. “With the return of members of these communities, we will ensure that the communities have prepared to have them back; we will also give them assistance to enable them reintegrate with the society,” he said. Osotimehin said UNFPA is in partnership with four UN agencies to support the Safe School Initiative, adding that the fund provides psycho-social support, counselling and girl-child education. He advised President Muhammadu Buhari to give premium attention to primary healthcare and education as a means to eradicating poverty in the country. He said providing primary health delivery and education to young persons, especially the girl child, would contribute to the alleviation of poverty and ensure that families do not give birth to more children than they could cater for. According to him, providing healthcare services in rural areas and free education to youth would close socio-economic gaps and uplift the nation.

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