UN expresses commitment to end maternal mortality in Nigeria

... Says 111 Nigerian women die daily during child birth

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said its dream is yet to be realised in Nigeria and for all people in all places, but expressed commitment to end maternal mortality in Nigeria.

The UNFPA made the commitment at the official launch of the “International Conference on Population Programme of Action (ICPD PoA) and UNFPA@50: The Unfinished Business;” in Abuja.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, pointed out that in Nigeria, 111 women die daily during childbirth, while worldwide 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy.

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Kallon stated that a total of 179 governments including Nigeria signed up to the ICPD Programme of Action in Cairo 1994; which was set out to Provide universal access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights; deliver gender equality, empowerment of women and equal access to education for girls; and others.

The UN Resident Coordinator said: “Despite the achievements since 1994, the Cairo Agenda (UNFPA dream) is yet to be realised for all people in all places including Nigeria. Aggregate development gains tend to masked widespread inequalities.

“For too many women and girls, the ideas of ICPD remains an unfulfilled promise. Worldwide, 800 women die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth every day. In Nigeria, 111 women die daily during childbirth.”

He added: “There are still 214 million women who want to prevent pregnancy but are not using a modern method of contraceptive. In Nigeria, one in four women who are in need of family planning services does not have access. Untold millions of women affected by war or disaster are cut off from reproductive health services.

“In North-East Nigeria of 7.1 million affected, 2.3 girls and 1.6 women are in need of services. The Total Fertility rate is still very high in many developing countries (it is 5.5 in Nigeria). World population has grown from 3.6 billion in 1969 to 7.7 billion today (in Nigeria from 140.4 million in 2006 to 194 million in 2018 at a growth rate of 3.2%).

“Demographic trends are more diverse- ageing in the developed world, youth bulge and underemployment in the developing world. There is increasing urbanisation, mobility and displacement and the threat of climate change among others.

“Currently, the world aims to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The SDGs are designed to eliminate poverty, discrimination, abuse and preventable deaths, address environmental destruction, and usher in an era of development for all people, everywhere.

“Universal sexual and reproductive health is central to many of the SGDs including ending poverty, security, good health and well-being, realising gender equality and achieving sustainable communities, among the 17 goals. Urgent and sustained efforts to realise reproductive health and rights are very crucial.  Yet we see the ICPD agenda and sexual and reproductive rights being challenged like never before.”

He described the 1994 ICPD in Cairo as a milestone in the history of population and development, as well as in the history of women’s rights.

“At the conference, the world agreed that population is not just about counting people, but about making people count,” Kallon said.

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