The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said that it will work with the three tiers of government and other partners to address the underlying contributory factors responsible for poor maternal outcomes in Nigeria.
The UNFPA Country Representative, Dr Eugene Kongnyuy, made the assertion at a two-day inception workshop and steering committee meeting for the project: “Addressing gaps in Gender Based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices in Nigeria’’.
Kongnyuy said that UNFPA and other partners would continue to support Nigeria in addressing the girl-child marriage, early pregnancy and as well strengthen timely access to skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care.
He said the agency would continue to advocate that every pregnant woman must have a skilled birth attendant such as nurse, midwife or doctor assisting her during child birth.
“A pregnant woman must also have timely access to specialised care if complications should occur.
“Every young person must have access to critical sexual and reproductive health information and services without prejudice,’’ Kongnyuy said.
The UNFPA country representative commended the Canadian Government, through the Global Affairs Canada, for funding the three-year-old project aimed at reducing the prevalence of sexual gender-based violence.
According to him, other focus of the project include child early and forced marriage, obstetric fistula, female genital mutilation and cutting as well as other harmful traditional practices.
Kongnyuy said that the project would also create an enabling environment and provide treatment and care for affected women and girls in Nigeria.
He said that the project was in line with the UNFPA’s strategic direction of the three transformative goals of ending unmet needs for family planning, ending preventable maternal deaths and ending violence against women and girls.
“The project will significantly contribute to delaying child marriage and closing the rising unmet needs for family planning in Sokoto and Bauchi States.
“The project will reduce gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices against women and girls in Oyo State and reduce maternal deaths in the three states.
“UNFPA will leverage on its existing projects and programmes in Bauchi, Oyo and Sokoto States to address the recurring issue of sexual gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage and other harmful practices,’’ he said.
In her remarks, representative of the Director, International Cooperation Department, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs Margret Dibigbo, said that violence against women was an epidemic which could not be ignored.
“ Government has realised that if investment in the girl-child was not made a priority, many girls will never be able to fulfill their potential and enjoy their human rights.
“This will translate into economic loss and foregone opportunities for growth and development.
“Government is willing to support any intervention that seek to address gender-based violence,’’ she said. (NAN)