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Gender equality fundamental to improving women’s health – Group

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A coalition of civil society organizations, women in PACFaH@scale project, has described gender equality as a major condiment to improving women’s health and overall well-being in the country.

The group explained that some of the barriers to inequality in women’s health include; lack of women’s education, illiteracy, lack of mentorship of younger generation, harmful traditional practices, early marriage, gender-based violence, and negligence of women with special needs.

In a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, to commemorate this year International Women’s Day, Dr. Gloria Larabai Shoda, explained that women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights, and are fundamental to women’s autonomy and well-being.

“Maternal mortality, adolescent pregnancy and access to sexual and reproductive health are some of the important aspects of women’s health that have an impact on development.

“According to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 6.9 percent of Nigerian women of reproductive age (15-49) are acutely malnourished and 3.8 percent as severely malnourished.

“In Nigeria, the maternal mortality ratio for 7 years period before the 2018 NDHS is estimated at 512 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

“Also, more than half of women’s population (52 percent) report at least one problem accessing health care for themselves,” she said.

She further added: “We are calling on the three tiers of government to fund, implement and ensure accountability of programs to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 5) – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

“Nigerian government has the duty to fulfill women’s rights pledges, and provide all women with accessible, affordable, good quality sexual and reproductive health care and services.

“Also, women have poor representation in leadership positions in government including health boards (Health management boards, primary health care boards etc).

“The Women in PACFaH@Scale believe that if these barriers are removed by fully funding, implementing and ensuring accountability, every Nigerian woman will have access to affordable and qualitative health care”.

The group therefore recommends that priority should be placed on funding, strengthening and ensuring accountability of the National and State Primary Health Care Boards.

Also, government should ensure provision of minimum service package in all primary health care centers.

“The government at all levels should provide emergency transportation to pregnant women and newborns in need and provide funds for operational cost. As well as collaborate with relevant organizations such as NURTW.

“National assembly should pass laws on the 35 percent affirmative action for women involvement and inclusion in governance.

“The government should also provide training to all skilled birth attendants on essential newborn care and provide appropriate equipment.

“Community leaders, gate keepers, traditional and religious leaders, and other well-meaning Nigerians should promote voluntary blood donation to assist women in need.

“All state governments should enforce that women are given 6 months maternity leave, with full pay.

“We believe that women’s health in Nigeria will improve if all the tiers of government have the political will to implement recommendations proposed by the women,” Dr. Shoda added

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