Former Health Minister, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin
Ministers of health from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, have committed to undertake a review of the status of the thirteenth life-saving commodities, opportunities, bottlenecks and gaps in their respective countries.
The pledge was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of an implementation meeting of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children in Abuja
The ministers applauded the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Norway, for their interest in the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities (UNCC).
They also acknowledged the UNCC Secretariat - the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) headed by Nigeria’s former Health Minister, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), for their immense support.
The ministers recalled the objectives and recommendations of the UNCC, the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health; the Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) movement and building on the pledge made in part of a Promise Renewed for Child Survival and Family Planning 2020; and Implementation meeting of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children in Abuja
They recognised the need for immediate action to increase access to life-saving commodities for all women and children; and acknowledged that as government officials they have a responsibility to guarantee health for women and children in their respective countries;
The meeting participants sought to build on Nigeria’s ‘Saving one million lives’ initiative and other best practices from member states, through enhanced South-south cooperation and innovative practices including the strategic use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT);
They also pledged to engage national stakeholders including Parliamentarians, private sector, civil society, technical and financial development partners.
In an earlier development, the United Nations System in Nigeria had called on the federal and states governments to make special efforts to protect the rights of the girl child, while marking the recent International Day of the Girl Child.
In recognition of the peculiar challenges facing the girl child, the UN General Assembly in a resolution on 19 December 2011, adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 every year as the International Day to be observed around the world. The theme for the 2012 Day was “Ending Child marriage”.
The recent inaugural International Day of the Girl Child focuses attention on the need to address the challenges confronting girls and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their rights. The United Nations System in Nigeria, comprising of specialised agencies, funds and programmes, urged government and partners to focus on preventing child marriage, which is a human rights violation recognised by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Child Rights Act and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life.
Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.
The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children (the Commission) took on the challenge outlined in UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy of saving lives through improving equitable access to life saving commodities.
After months of deliberation, a finalised report with ten clear recommendations has been produced and was launched as part of the Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) movement, on 26 September 2012.
Building on the 10 recommendations of the Commission’s Report across the 13 “overlooked” life-saving commodities, an Implementation Plan for Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children is being developed. This plan includes general actions which address all of the commodities.
The Abuja meeting provided a platform for advocacy for required policy changes; help outline the global and local market shaping actions; an opportunity for the sharing and scaling up of appropriate innovations and good practices; and the opportunity for the 10 recommendations and their respective implementation plans to be effectively nested to national priorities.
It also galvanised the recommendations and the proposed implementation plan and ensure effective monitoring of all the 10 Recommendations particularly at country level.