Govts Still Upholding Women’s, Girls’ Health And Rights Despite COVID-19 – UNFPA

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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has hailed governments, individuals and non-governmental organizations for upholding women’s and girls’ health and rights despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on the health and economies of countries around the world, governments, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions and the private sector are stepping up political, financial and in-kind support for programmes that protect the health and rights of women and girls in developing countries,” the UN agency said in a statement it released on Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25.

The agency while explaining that major government donors have substantially delivered on the pledges (over $8 billion) they made during the Summit, it quoted its Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem as reiterating that the commitments made in the Kenyan capital are, more than ever before, more critical to achieving the set goals.

“The commitments made in Nairobi are more critical now than ever before. Far from dampening our ambition, COVID-19 has only sharpened our focus and resolve,” Dr. Natalia added. “I am heartened to see so many governments, private sector and civil society partners take bold steps to sustain our collective efforts and deliver on our promises to women and girls. As long as we stand together, we will prevail.”

In Nigeria, the UNFPA added that it is ensuring accelerated action towards the ICPD25 commitments and Plan of Action (PoA) through its technical assistance to the Federal Government, ministries, agencies and other partners.

The Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 was held in the Kenyan capital with major stakeholders around the world committing to ending preventable maternal death, the unmet need for contraception, and gender-based violence and harmful practices like child marriage and female genital mutilation, by 2030.

Over 8,000 delegates from 170 countries made 1,250 financial and other commitments backing sexual and reproductive health and rights.


UNFPA Commissions Expanded Fistula Care Centre In Sokoto

Sokoto, usually referred to as Sokoto State to distinguish it from the city of Sokoto, is located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River
Sokoto, usually referred to as Sokoto State to distinguish it from the city of Sokoto, is located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday, commissioned an expanded fistula care centre in Sokoto State. 

In a statement by the UNFPA, the agency explained that the “rehabilitated Goronyo General Hospital operating theatre and patient ward are part of a comprehensive approach by UNFPA to increase access to fistula care for indigent patients.

“This includes the earlier commissioning in March 2020 of the rehabilitated operating theatre and patient ward at the Maryam Abacha Women and Children Hospital in Sokoto metropolis, along with the provision of essential medical equipment and kits as well as the training of healthcare workers on the management of obstetric fistula.”

According to the UNFPA, the project further aims to restore the dignity of women and girls living with fistula and preventing the disease, while appreciating the support of the Sokoto State Government.

“UNFPA reiterates its commitment to ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” the statement added.

“Also, UNFPA is committed to the Federal Government of Nigeria’s vision of becoming a country free of Obstetric Fistula by 2030. Finally, UNFPA would like to once again, thank and appreciate its donor, Global Affairs Canada, for providing funding support for the project.

Sokoto State has one of the worst reproductive health indices in Nigeria with an estimated maternal mortality of more than 2000/100,000 live births, the UNFPA noted.

The UN agency added that over a two-third (71%) of pregnant women in the state never attended antenatal care; 91% of the women delivered at home and less than 10% had skilled birth attendance, exposing them to risk of maternal death and complications including fistula.

UNFPA, Gates Seek National Emergency On Family Planning

UNFPA, Gates Seek National Emergency On Family Planning
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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have called for a national emergency on family planning and birth control in the country.

According to the UNFPA, over 20 million women of childbearing age in Nigeria lack access to safe family planning methods, thereby exposing them to the dangers of unwanted pregnancy and its associated complications.

The assistant country representative of UNFPA, Osaretin Adonri, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at an event to mark the 2017 World Population Day.

He recommended family planning and birth spacing as means of reducing maternal mortality and the population of street children in Nigeria.

The country representative of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mairo Mandara also explained that the declaration of a national emergency on family planning would help to reduce crime in the society.

On his part, the Chairman of the National Population Commission, Eze Duruiheoma argued that the country’s population does not matter anymore, but its quality.

The 2017 World Population with the theme: ‘Family Planning, Birth Spacing, Empowering People and Developing Nations’, is targeted at creating awareness on population issues, including the health of women.

Experts at the event noted that as a country with about 3.2% annual growth rate, there is a greater need to deepen the campaign in Nigeria.

UNFPA Executive Director, Babatunde Osotimehin Dies At 68

A former minister of health and the Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin, is dead.

The former health minister died in the early hours of Monday, Premium Times reported, citing sources close to him.

Born on February 6, 1949, Osotimehin attended Igbobi College from 1966 to 71 and proceeded from there to the University of Ibadan for his medical studies after which he received a doctorate in medicine from the University of Birmingham in 1979.

He was Nigeria’s Minister of Health from 2008 to 2010.

He was appointed the UNFPA Executive Director in November 2010 for a four-year term, which was renewed in 2014.

He was also until his death an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Prior to becoming the health minister, Osotimehim held various roles in health agencies in the country.

For instance, he was once the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and Chairman of the National Action Committee on AIDS.


U.S. Withdraws Funding For UN Population Fund

The United States says it has withdrawn its funding for the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA), an agency which promotes family planning in more than 150 countries.

According to the State Department, the agency supports and participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation.

Earlier this year, President Trump had reinstated a ban on U.S. funding of any international organization that provided any kind of abortion service or advice.

Meanwhile, the agency has called the claims “Erroneous”, saying that all of its work promotes the rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination.

The U.S. State Department further stated that the money allocated to the agency will be “Transferred and reprogrammed to the Global Health Programs account, which will be used by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support family planning, maternal and reproductive health activities in developing countries.

This is the first of the promised cuts to U.S. financial contributions to the UN by the Trump administration.

UNFPA Promises More Humanitarian Support In Borno

UNFPA Promises More Humanitarian Support In BornoGovernor Kashim Shettima on Wednesday commended the United Nations Fund for Population for sustaining its humanitarian support towards rehabilitating Internally Displaced Persons in the Northeast.

Shettima made the commendation when the Executive Director of the UNFPA, Prof. Babatunde Oshotimehin, visited him in Maiduguri.

The Governor said: “We want to thank you for your support on health care, reproductive health, population growth and your humanitarian concern for the people of Borno state.”

Professor Oshotimehin, in his remark, said: “A recent World Bank peace building assessment showed that about 9 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of properties was destroyed by Boko Haram and Borno suffered about 6.7 billion dollars’ worth of destruction.UNFPA Promises More Humanitarian Support In Borno

“About 201 primary and secondary healthcare facilities were completely destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgents, while about 665 municipal buildings, including police stations and offices across the 17 local government areas were also destroyed by Boko Haram.

“Your Excellency, I am sure one of your concerns is the girl child education; the girl child education is one area of great concern to us too.

“We are passionate about the girl child education because presently about 62 million girls are out of school.

“So we want you to assist us in the area of girl child empowerment.”

He had earlier pledged to sustain the humanitarian support to the government of Nigeria in order to restore normalcy and security to the North East.

“We are the only agency, UNFPA that is actively taking deliveries in the IDPs; we are taking care of women already and we are going to continue doing what we are supposed to do.

“Of course, now that we are building resilience for the communities, we have to ensure that indigenes have facilities like the antenatal care.

“On the issue of empowerment, we will ensure that we work with the state government to ensure that the people get back to their livelihood.

“One thing that is very critical is the issue of girl child education; it is so critical because that is when we can actually achieve the needed change,” Oshotimehin said.

However, he advised the governor to intensify efforts to educate the girl child in order to build societies and communities.

The UNFPA boss pledged that the organisation would work with the Borno government to assist women to space their births.

“We must work with governments and we must respect governments; we as the United Nations must have that synergy and work with other colleagues so that we can achieve effective response in Borno State.

“We will stand solidly by you and we will support you in every possible way because we are determined to give optimal services to the IDPs,” Oshotimehin emphasized.


UNFPA Urges Nigeria To Invest In Girl Child Education

UNFPA, Girl Child EducationThe future of nations by the year 2030 may be determined by investment and support of 10-year-old girls today, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

To this end, the UNFPA is asking Nigeria to invest in girl child education to end issues of poverty, unemployment and attain the sustainable development goals.

For the UN body, all the ten-year-old girls living in developing countries, who do not currently attend school have the potential to add 21 billion dollars per year to the economies.

The Deputy Regional Director, UNFPA, Beatrice Mutali, underlined the dangers of giving out girls early in marriage without giving them the necessary education or skills.

The United Nations has continued its advocacy against early child marriage and child abuse across the globe.

We’re Making Up For Shortage Of Resources, Buhari says

Muhammadu-Buhari-and-Babatunde-OsotimehinNigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration is doing its best to manage the nation’s resources in a prudent manner.

He said that the government was committed to transparency and accountability, which is serving the government in good stead, despite severe shortage of resources.

The President spoke on Thursday at the State House in Abuja while receiving the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director and Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin.

“It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria.

“Before we came to office, petroleum sold for about $100 per barrel. Then it crashed to $37, and now oscillates between $40 and $45 per barrel. Suddenly, we’re a poor country, but commitment to transparency and accountability is not making people know that there is severe shortage,” the President said.

Saving Lives In Nigeria

Asking UNFPA to bear with Nigeria in whichever area the country could not live up to its responsibilities for now, President Buhari said exploding population and different cultural practices in the country provide fertile ground for research to organizations like UNFPA.

The President thanked the UN agency for its commitment to saving lives in Nigeria, particularly of women and children.

On food security, President Buhari said reports from the northeast of the country were encouraging, as people were returning to their farmlands, with the guarantee of relative security.

A statement by a spokesman for the President, Mr Femi Adesina, said Professor Osotimehin, who was a former Minister of Health in Nigeria, told President Buhari that the UNFPA was determined to promote health care facilities across Nigeria.

He said that reduction of maternal mortality was doable, if the country paid more attention to access to health facilities, and human resources to run them.

He also encouraged Nigeria to commit to providing resources for health care, on a rollover basis, pledging that the UN would work with the country to provide humanitarian assistance not only in the North-East, “but even extended to the Lake Chad basin.”

UNFPA Challenges Nigeria On Youth Development

UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin, YouthThe United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has urged the Federal Government to invest more in young people for national development.

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, made the appeal on Wednesday during a news conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He asked government to involve young people in policy formulation, rather than making policies and ideas for them, “does not work most times”.

Professor Osotimehin explained that young people need to be properly directed for positive contribution to national development.

UNICEF Says Aid Continues In Northeast Nigeria Despite Attack On Staff

UNICEF, Northeast NigeriaUNICEF says it will continue to provide assistance to millions of conflict-affected children in northeast Nigeria, despite Thursday’s attack on a humanitarian convoy.

As a result of the attack, in which one UNICEF staff member was injured, travel by UN staff to high risk areas has been temporarily suspended.

However, UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Jean Gough, said that the organization continues “working at full strength in the Borno state capital Maiduguri”.

“We continue to call for increased efforts to reach people in desperate need across the state. We cannot let this heartless attack divert any of us from reaching the more than two million people who are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance.”

UNICEF has also called on donors and humanitarian organizations to scale-up the response to the emerging disaster in Borno State, which is the most affected by the conflict with Boko Haram.

Before the attack, security conditions had been improving in several areas. “Our teams were finding people living on the brink of disaster,” said Jean Gough,

“The violence has disrupted farming and markets, destroyed food stocks, and damaged or destroyed health and water facilities. We absolutely have to reach more of these communities,” she added.

UNICEF estimates that 244,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2016 in Borno State alone and if they are not reached with treatment, one in five of them will die.

It says it has provided two million people with health services and treated 56,000 children for malnutrition in the three conflict-affected states of northeast Nigeria.

A quarter of a million people have improved access to clean water, and over 200,000 children have been able to go back to school.

At the beginning of the year, UNICEF appealed for US$55 million for its emergency work, of which US$23 million has so far been received.

Despite the temporary suspension of travel to high risk areas, UNICEF plans to scale-up its response in Borno State substantially.

244,000 Children May Suffer Acute Malnutrition – UNICEF

UNICEFThe United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has called on all international agencies and the Nigerian government to help assist children in at risk of malnutrition.

In an interview with Channels Television, UNICEF’s Communications Officer in Nigeria, Doune Porter, said part of the assistance is to provide medical help for close to 250,000 children whom it says will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year if not treated.

UNICEF estimates that 244,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2016 in Borno State alone and if they are not reached with treatment, one in five of them will die.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has said that it plans to scale-up its response in Borno State substantially, despite the temporary suspension of humanitarian aid in the state.

UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough said in a statement that the fund cannot let a “heartless attack” divert it from reaching the more than two million people who are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

According to Ms. Gough , the temporary suspension will affect only high risk areas.

On Friday, the International humanitarian aid was suspended in northeast Nigeria after militants ambushed the convoy of aid personnel working with UNICEF, UNFPA and IOM.

The United Nations says the aid mission to Bama, in Borno State is temporarily suspended until a review of the security situation is complete.

Saraki Urges UN To Lift Suspension On Aid Deliveries

United Nations, Bukola SarakiSenate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has appealed to the United Nations to lift its suspension on aid deliveries in Nigeria.

UN made the announcement after a humanitarian aid convoy from the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was attacked while travelling from Bama to Maiduguri in Borno State.

In a statement by his spokesman, Senator Saraki condemned the attack, stating that it was unacceptable to endanger the lives of aid workers who were only trying to assuage the situation in Nigeria’s Northeast.

He further called for an immediate review of the security situation in the region by the relevant authorities.

The Senate President stressed that it was necessary to alleviate the concerns of international partners who are set to help rebuild the crisis-torn areas.

With the temporary suspension of UN’s activities in the region, Dr. Saraki called on the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant agencies to immediately address the shortfall that could arise from the cessation of donations of food and medicines.

He appealed to the UN to resume its activities in Northeast as soon as possible, while reassuring Nigerians and the international community that the Senate would fast-track the passage of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill.

The NEDC Bill aims to create a legislative framework and multi-state platform for the coordination of relief and donations to the northeast zone.