By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
Women and girls in Nigeria are dying from preventable and treatable sexual health complications as a result of entrenched resistance to women’s autonomy and control over their bodies, a non-governmental human rights organisation, Vision Spring Initiatives, has said.
The non-governmental human rights organisation which regretted that Nigeria has the third-highest infant mortality in the world besides being the largest contributor to the global mortality rate insisted that deep-seated religious and cultural beliefs were responsible for the action.
The Vision Spring Initiatives, in a concept note
released through its Project Director, Ngozi Nwosu-Juba, Friday, in Abuja, during its National Mock Tribunal on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Nigeria, regretted that the development was always justified on the basis of culture and religion.
It also identified what it called “poor health care systems and weak policy implementation” as an addition to women’s risk of health.
It said young women in Nigeria were faced with many health challenges which it noted,”hamper their growth and progress.”
“Nigeria has the third-highest infant mortality in the world and also the largest contributor to the global mortality rate.
“The rates are high not because diseases leading to death cannot be cured or prevented. Women and girls are dying from preventable and treatable sexual health complications as a result of entrenched resistance to women’s autonomy and control over their bodies.
This is often justified on the basis of culture and/or religion. Poor health care systems and weak policy implementation add to women’s risk of death,” it said.
Citing the recently released “National Demographic Health Survey,NDHS 2018 data in the country which states that unmet need for family planning declined from 20 percent in 2008; 16 percent in 2013 before increasing to 19 percent in 2018″, the organization noted that 10 percent of maternal deaths in Nigeria were due to unsafe abortion.
” Access to safe abortion is restricted in Nigeria. A 2015 national study of abortion incidences in Nigeria reveals the challenges that remain to improve conditions for Nigerian women and girls. Only 16% of all women of reproductive age use any contraceptives and an even lower percentage of 11 percent use a modern method, which results in almost 10 million Unintended pregnancies, of which more than half end in an induced abortion,” it added.
According to the group, “Young women in Nigeria are faced with many health challenges which hamper their growth and progress; one such issue that is standing in the way of girls’ progress is unsafe abortion! The data is daunting.”
It said: “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe abortion continues to be a public health crisis and one of the largest contributors to maternal mortality and morbidity in Africa, accounting for up to 30% of maternal deaths in many sub-Saharan countries. The World Health Organisation estimates that over 6 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa resulting in 29,000 deaths and countless serious injuries and disabilities every year for poor, mostly rural-based African women and girls under age 25.”
It spoke further: “Unsafe abortion is a major contributor to Nigeria’s high levels of maternal death, ill-health, and disability. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world and little improvement has occurred in recent years,” the group said.
“The current ratio of 576 to 100,000 live births remains a source of concern especially with the poor implementation of the National Health Act, alongside issues of accessibility, affordability, availability, and quality of health care which remains critical in maternal health services in the country.
“The slogan of leaving no one behind and the commitment in the newly adopted Universal Health Coverage Declaration can only be achieved if government health plan targets those in most need of it; women and girls.
“There is a need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including services.
“Central to women’s and girls’ health and wellbeing is the realization of their human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights.
“Vision Spring Initiatives and other partners are working to empower women and girls, raise awareness on their rights, advocate for the adoption and implementation of laws and policies that prohibit and prevent sexual violence, unsafe abortion, and mobilizing communities against all forms of stigma.”